Tahquitz football team uses defense, ground game to beat Linfield Christian – Press Enterprise

HEMET — Stephon Pace is an old-school football coach who believes playing good defense and running the ball are two of the best ways to win games. And Tahquitz excelled in both of those departments Thursday evening.

DJ Bryant, David Toney and Romeo Evans combined to run for 360 yards and four touchdowns, while the defense forced four turnovers to help the Titans remain undefeated following a 28-10 nonleague vcitory over Linfield Christian.

“Our defense has really carried us these first four games,” Pace said. “Sure, we are running the ball well. It’s what we do here. But the defense has been outstanding, creating turnovers and setting up the offense.”

Tahquitz (4-0) scored half of its points following turnovers created by the defense. The Titans recovered a fumble late in the first quarter, and Toney scored on a 5-yard run on the first play of the second quarter for the first points of the game. Jacob Arbuckle picked off two passes for the Titans, the second one coming midway through the fourth period and Tahquitz holding a 21-10 lead. Evans capped a nine-play, 85-yard drive with a 1-yard sneak to seal the victory.

Bryant, Toney and Evans play three different positions, but each one excelled in the running game Thursday. Bryant, a receiver who often slides into the backfield, ran for 154 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Toney is Tahquitz’s smallest player, but the tailback muscled out 132 tough yards on 18 carries. Evans completed six passes for only 44 yards, but he did plenty of damage with his legs with 74 additional yards on nine carries.

“The goals are to work on technique and get better each day,” senior offensive lineman David Carrillo said. “You just go our there and try to set the tone… We want to make sure each one of our brothers is safe when the game is over.”

Pace hopes the offense shows more balance as the season progresses but is pleased with the big rushing numbers.

“We have some speed on the outside, and we’re struggling to get those guys the ball right now,” Pace said. “Our offensive line is leading the way. They do the dirty work and there’s no real glory for them. but they just keep getting the job done.”

Bryant broke tackles and scored on a 23-yard run to give Tahquitz a 14-0 with 3:52 left in the first half. Linfield Christian (2-2) had first-and-goal at the 9, but the Lions had to settle for a 28-yard field goal by Jeremy Maloney in the closing seconds of the half.

Linfield Christian cut the deficit to 14-10 when John Reynoso caught a short pass from Thomas Paschal and turned it into a 30-yard touchdown. Paschal threw for 133 yards but left the game in the second half with an injury.

Bryant helped Tahquitz answer back with 70 yards on the ensuing drive, including an 11-yard touchdown run.

This marks the second time Tahquitz has started a season with four straight victories. The Titans started the 2018 season with a 6-0 record but lost their final four league games and missed out on the playoffs.

“We’re not looking ahead,” Pace said. “But I will say this team will not let that happen again. Our seniors will not let it happen.”

Reynoso finished with four catches for 67 yards, and Dylan Cane had an interception for Linfield Christian.

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