Spartans stumble at home

Ken Flax/Special to the Town Crier
Senior Jacob Cortinas, carrying the ball against Capuchino, led Mountain View High in rushing Saturday.

After slumping to 1-3 with Saturday’s 38-32 home loss to Capuchino, the Mountain View High football team seems eager for the fresh start that comes with the opening of league play this week.

“We’re kind of starting over,” said quarterback JD Coyne, whose Spartans will try to snap a three-game losing streak when they visit Gunn 7 p.m. Friday to kick off their Santa Clara Valley Athletic League El Camino Division slate. “We’ve got to put this loss behind us and go to work for league.”

That work will undoubtedly involve shoring up the defense, which surrendered 432 yards to the Mustangs (3-1).

With elusive quarterback Brandon Mailangi at the controls, the Capuchino offense made big play after big play. The senior threw touchdown passes of 27 and 58 yards, and he completed throws of 45 and 67 yards on two other drives in which the Mustangs ultimately scored TDs.

“We had some breakdowns – breakdowns that we shouldn’t be having – and that just continually happens with us,” Mountain View coach Shelley Smith said. “So we’ve got to figure out how to overcome some of that stuff.”

The Spartans also gave up a 39-yard run to halfback Victor Shi late in the first half, leading to a field goal that extended the Capuchino lead to 24-14.

Mountain View got the ball back with just 18 seconds left in the half, but the offense needed only 14 of them to score. On second down, quarterback JD Coyne connected with receiver Austin Flax, who raced down the left sideline for a 58-yard touchdown.

“Austin’s a great player,” Coyne said of the sophomore, who caught a team-high five passes for 127 yards Saturday. “He works hard every day.”

Down three points and with the momentum on its side, Mountain View took the second-half kickoff and methodically marched to the Mustangs’ 21-yard line in eight plays. But after a dropped pass and a run play that lost 3 yards, the Spartans settled for a 40-yard field goal by Neal Lund that tied the game 24.

Capuchino countered with a long scoring drive of its own – capped by Mailangi’s 1-yard plunge into the end zone – and led the rest of the way.

“We had a good start to the second half when we went down the field, but we stalled and got a field goal and then we fumbled on the next drive,” Smith said. “By that time, the quarter’s almost over.”

Although the Mustangs didn’t score on the fumble, forced to punt after Mountain View linebacker Cai Cox sacked Mailangi near midfield early in the fourth quarter, their defense stopped the Spartans’ next two drives. Mountain View’s 13-play series ended at Capuchino’s 36 when Coyne’s fourth-and-1 run came up shy of the marker – much to the displeasure of Smith and his staff, who vehemently disagreed with where the officials spotted the ball – and the Spartans’ ensuing possession lasted just four plays, halted by an incomplete pass.

The Mustangs scored in between to all but put the game away. Mailangi threw a fourth-down pass over the middle to tight end Kenny Osterlund, who rumbled 58 yards for the touchdown.

Mountain View’s lone TD of the fourth quarter came with 22 seconds remaining on a 2-yard run by Josue Ibarra-Prado. Fellow halfback Jacob Cortinas added the two-point conversion, running a sweep into the right side of the end zone. Cortinas led the Spartans in rushing with 65 yards.

“This team has a lot of heart,” Coyne said of the way his squad finished the game. “We’re a group of guys that want to play football. Everyone out here loves everybody, and we love playing football. Now we have to take all the motivation that we have and put a game together.”

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