MISSION VIEJO, Calif. -
They aren't real big. And not particularly flashy. But the Bellevue (Wash.)
football team is, if nothing else, resilient.
The Wolverines got some remarkably determined runs from mighty backs John Nguyen
(5-foot-9, 180 pounds) and Ari Morales
(5-9, 160) and one monumental all-around game from quarterback and cornerback Tyler Hasty
to knock of bigger, prettiery and flashier Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, Calif.)
31-21 in the sixth and final game of the inaugural Mission Viejo Football Classic late Saturday night.
Nguyen rushed 19 times for 145 yards and two touchdowns, including a 12-yard blast up the middle with 2:34 remaining to all but seal the victory. He earlier scored on a 13-yard run in the first quarter.
The game pitted the No. 21 (Oaks Christian) and 22 teams in the nation.
"When I crossed the line I didn't know I was in," he said. "I just kept moving my legs like I'm taught to do. This was a great, great win."
Hasty, son of former NFL defensive back, rushed for 99 yards, completed 5 of 6 passes, had two interceptions on defense and stripped the ball straight out of the hands of Arizona State-bound Oaks Christian standout
who had a pretty fair game himself with 12 tackles and a team-high 107 yards rushing.
"That Mendoza is a stud," Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff said. "I'm sure he's one of the best in the nation. But if people don't think that Tyler Hasty isn't one of the best in the country, there's something seriously wrong."
As good as Nguyen and Hasty were, a 23-yard touchdown run by Morales midway through the third quarter personified Bellevue's resolve.
On a quick-pitch left, Mendoza made a straight line for Morales and drilled him with his best shot. Morales just kept driving, bounced outside further, broke two more tackles and sprinted into the end zone, giving Bellevue a 24-13 lead.
Earlier in the game Morales fumbled, setting up a Oaks Christian score.
"The kid is a gamer," Goncharoff said. "They all are. That's a heck of a win against one heck of a football team."
Oaks Christian, winners of 136 of 150 games the last 11 seasons, moved the ball well in spots behind first-year quarterback Luke Falk
, a 6-4 junior transfer from Utah.
Falk completed 22 of 42 for 235 yards and one touchdown, a 20-yard strike to USC-bound Jordan Payton
(nine catches, 103 yards) in the second quarter to put the Lions up 13-10.
Following Bellevue's third-quarter flurry, Oaks Christian cut the lead to 24-21 on a 2-yard run by Mendoza and ensuing two-point conversion with 11:15 left.
After holding, Oaks Christian got the ball back but on 4th-and-10 from his own 49 and more than six minutes remaining, coach Bill Redell went for it. Falk's pass went incomplete, Bellevue took over and converted a pair of fourth-down plays before Nguyen's decisive touchdown.
"It was a gamble but I just didn't feel like we might get the ball back," Redell said about the fourth-down call.
Hasty capped the win with his second interception, setting off a hearty Bellevue celebration.
"It took everything we had to pull this out," Hasty said. "We stuck to our game plan. Coach made adjustments at halftime and our backs ran hard. It was a great, great win."
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