CONNELL — To borrow a Yogism, it was deja vu all over again.
The Othello football team lost its season opener to Connell in a non-league game a year ago. The Huskies (0-1) did the same on Friday night, falling 28-10, to open the 2017 campaign.
Isaiah Perez gave Othello a short-lived lead four seconds second quarter on a 2-yard plunge to make it 10-7. But that was it for the Huskies scoring and things unraveled in a penalty-filled, turnover-heavy second half. The Eagles (1-0) scored 21 unanswered points to showcase why they are one of the premiere 1A programs in the state.
“We were off and on with the offense tonight. Sometimes we had it going and sometimes we got shut down,” said Othello fullback Isaiah Perez, who finished with 24 yards rushing on seven carries.
“I thought we felt pretty comfortable and came out hard. We’ll get some things cleaned up and we’ll be OK.”
The night showed promise to be a real slugfest early. Connell scored on its first drive when Tristan Garland banged it in from 1-yard out. The Huskies answered, taking advantage of a roughing the passer penalty to move the sticks. But the drive stalled on the 27. Placer kicker Patrick Azevedo showed plenty of leg, knocking a 37-yard field goal through with 2:40 left in the first quarter.
Connell fumbled on its next possession and Josh Valdez recovered it and the Huskies set up shop on the Eagles 44. The drive produced Perez’s go-ahead touchdown to open the second quarter, but the Huskies went scoreless in the second half.
“DJ (Guzman) and I need to spend more time throwing the ball around to develop that chemistry,” Huskies wide receiver Kyler Villarreal said. “It’s the first game of the season and DJ had a hard time in the pocket sometimes. We never got into a rhythm. Our strength is our run game. We just need to get back to work.”
The Huskies out-gained the Eagles on the ground, 126 yards to 100, but where the 1A state runners-up got the upper hand was on the arm of Connell quarterback Austin Smith. Smith shredded the Othello defense in the second half. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior was 13 of 21 for 129 yards with scoring strikes to Silas Chase and Luis Ramos.
It was just a one-score game at the intermission, but the Eagles broke it open in the third quarter on a series of Othello mistakes and penalties. The Huskies defense forced a three-and-out to open the second half, but muffed the punt to give Connell possession on there 30. The defense held again and the Huskies took over on downs.
Othello didn’t run its first play of the third quarter until the 7:49 mark. Quarterback DJ Guzman was hit as he tried to pitch on the option to the short side and fumbled. The Eagles took over on the 10 and made it a 21-10 game when Smith ran it in for a 9-yard score. Connell scored one more time on a 30-yard strike from Smith to Ramos with 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“We started off slow on defense. I think the intensity was good the whole night. We just have to get some things figured out,” Othello linebacker Sam Azevedo said. “We were a little slow on a couple of passes. We need to work on pressure and not give up the deep passes.”
Othello travels to Royal on Friday for a non-league game against the two-time defending 1A state champions, which shutout Ellensburg 42-0 in its season opener.
Score by quarters
Othello 3 7 0 0 — 10
Connell 7 7 14 0 — 28
C — Tristan Garland 1 run (Luis Ramos kick),
O — Patrick Azevedo 37 field goal, 2:40
O — Isaiah Perez 2 run (Azevedo kick), 11:56
C — Silas Chase 6 pass from Austin Smith
(Ramos kick), 6:06
C — Smith 9 run (Ramos kick), 6:45
C — Ramos 30 pass from Smith (Ramos kick), 15.2