Late TD lifts Eagles past Titans in 2021 opener

Granite Hills’ Zak Darling scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.

The Granite Hills High School football team was facing a 10-7 deficit against the visiting Poway Titans as time was ticking down in the teams’ season opener.

Last Friday’s matchup pitted teams that went undefeated in their respective leagues during the 2021 spring season (3-0 in the Grossmont Hills League for Granite Hills and 5-0 for Poway in the Palomar League).

In a highly anticipated “Battle of Champions,” Granite Hills prevailed, 14-10, on a 16-yard touchdown run by junior Zack Darling with 2:16 to play.

“It was a hard-fought win the first week of the season,” Granite Hills head coach Kellan Cobbs said. “The defense really played well in the second half to keep us in the game. Our offense is young but made a few big plays down the stretch when we needed them to. I’m proud of our guys and ready to see the improvement from Week 1 to Week 2.”

The game settled into a defensive matchup early on and an interception in the second quarter by junior Corey Thompson-Miller set up Granite Hills’ first touchdown of the 2021-22 season as sophomore Derek Edmund caught a 19-yard scoring pass from junior quarterback Nico Tomasello.

Huge hits dominated the non-league matchup, which was otherwise dominated by the Eagles’ huge, mobile and physical offensive line.

The Granite Hills defense proved it could hold its own as well by allowing just 86 total offensive yards: 56 passing yards and 30 rushing yards.

Senior Ryan Mancuso (two carries, three yards) scored Poway’s lone touchdown on a one-yard run following an unnecessary roughing penalty in the third quarter while senior James Wagenseller booted a 37-yard field goal with 1:28 left in the stanza.

Wagenseller’s go-ahead field goal came after a turnover by the hosts.

The Eagles forced Wagenseller to punt five times in the game and intercepted Poway junior signal-caller Dylan Curry twice. Junior Joaquin Thomas Jr. made the final pick in the dying moments of the game to nix a potential Poway rally.

Junior Maddox Ditalo made one interception for the Titans.

Granite Hills was scheduled to host the neighborhood rival Valhalla Norsemen in a rescheduled Thursday game. Both teams entered the non-league contest with 1-0 records following Valhalla’s 14-8 non-league win over the visiting Hilltop Lancers last Friday.

Late TD lifts Eagles past Titans in 2021 opener