By Patrick Lujan
Midway through the 2013/14 Budweiser Football League season, the defending champion Raiders look to be in the best position of a repeat.
The Raiders’ 28-8 win over the Angels Sunday afternoon kept their unbeaten record in tact behind the scoring combo of quarterback Danny Manibusan and receiver Alex Azcarraga.
“Right now, we still have the Eagles that are very competitive,” Raiders head coach Richard Cotelesse said about the league’s main competition. “That’s the team we’re worried about now. If we can get over the Eagles again, I can say we’re comfortable. The Eagles are a good team.”
The Raiders beat the Eagles 22-6 in week two of the season.
It was a defensive struggle in the first half as both teams went back and forth trading possessions. The Raiders got on the board first thanks to their defense when outside linebacker JoJohn Quinata was the recipient of a tipped S.P. Phillips pass and took it to the house from 20 yards out. Jacob Torres came up with a nice grab in the corner of the end zone for the two-pointer and an 8-0 lead going into halftime.
On the Raiders first possession of the third quarter in Angels territory, Azcarraga came up with the first of his two touchdowns, hauling in a 20-yard toss from Manibusan in between two defenders. The pass attempt was no good with the Raiders ahead 14-0.
The Angels responded on the ensuing possession, marching down the field and capping off an impressive drive with a 23-yard connection between Phillips and a wide open Isu Mendiola. Marvin Manibusan punched in the two-point dive to cut it to 14-8.
But the Raiders put a quick end to any threat on the very next play when return man Steven Santos dazzled the crowd with a highlight-reel return into Angels territory.
“That was a big one,” Cotelesse said. “Big plays like that wake a team up. That’s why we call him Juice. He should’ve been down at the five-yard line.”
“The game plan was not to kick it to him. We know how dangerous a returner he is. He bobbled the kick and it broke down the kickoff coverage. He’s a game-changer and he made a big play. That helped their team,” Angels head coach Mike Willess added. “He’s done that all season to the other teams.”
Several plays later, Danny Manibusan avoided a sack and found Azcarraga in the back of the end zone from 14 yards out to extend the lead to 20-8.
Young Matt Javier capped off the scoring for the day, running in for a four-yard score late in the fourth quarter.
“The Angels stopped our runs,” Cotelesse said about his opponent’s defense. The Angels D limited the Raiders top two running backs of Hosea Ware and Dave Delgado to a combined 57 yards.
“That wasn’t the same defense from the past couple of games. They came up big time today. They came to play this game.”
Despite the loss, Coach Willess was still in the Christmas Spirit, making sure that he wishes a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the entire Hal’s Angels Football organization.
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