Jets Scuttle Pirates for Eighth Victory

AJ Falk    Senior wide receiver Teddy Owns runs for an Encinal first down in last Friday’s game against the San Leandro Pirates.

Cliff-hanger touchdown can’t save San Leandro, 13-12

Encinal High School senior Jets linebacker Jezaiah Naigulevu had seen this before. Last year the San Leandro High School Pirates had put the ball in the hands of a senior leader who scored a game-winning touchdown, defeating the Jets, 18-13. 

This year Naigulevu was ready. The linebacker stuffed Pirates running back Osaro Aihie on a game-winning, two-point conversion attempt that fell just short of the goal line, giving Encinal a 13-12 victory.

“I was thinking they would pass but it was surprising that they went at the teeth of our defense,” Naigulevu said. “I just got my guard reads and was lucky to come over the top.” Naigulevu had 13 tackles and a sack.

The tackle highlighted another stout performance by the Jets defense, which is allowing just 5.7 points per game and has six shutouts on the season. Encinal held the Pirates to 151 total yards on the game, with only 38 of those yards on the ground.

Junior safety Vincent Nunley had two interceptions on the night, one of which he ran back 59 yards for a touchdown. Nunley put himself in the right position to create the turnover.

“I saw they had two receivers on each side,” Nunley said. “So I changed my alignment from 12 to 15 yards. The QB looked at one receiver and I followed his eyes.”

After coming down with the interception, the Jets safety saw that he had a convoy of blockers. 

“The left side of the field was wide open,” Nunley said.

The game itself was a defensive battle, with the score locked at 6-6 at halftime. Senior quarterback David Romero-Reinholz found receiver Teddy Oliver for a 29-yard touchdown during the third quarter, the Jets’ lone offensive touchdown. Romero-Reinholz was 12-of-23 for 122 yards. Oliver finished with 5 catches for 75 yards.

Special teams played a big role on the night, with both the Jets and the Pirates missing an extra point. After junior kicker Kevin Le missed an extra point in the first quarter, Encinal sent in senior John Brindley to attempt the team’s second extra point, which he made to put the Jets up 13-6.

“I just walked out there, took my steps, and kicked the ball,” Brindley said. “I’ve never missed an extra point so I wasn’t expecting to miss this one.”

Brindley missed a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

With two minutes left in the game, the Pirates scored on a 50-yard touchdown pass, making it 13-12. Having their previous extra point blocked, the Pirates decided to go for two with the league championship on the line. 

“It felt like a movie ending,” Naigulevu said. “It was senior night. It was a perfect ending.”
Encinal is now 8-1 (4-0) and will take on Bishop O’Dowd, 3-6 (3-1) this Friday. San Leandro High falls to 5-3 (3-1).

 

This story is presented courtesy of Joshua Linville’s English and  publication design class at Encinal High School. The Alameda Sun thanks the student journalists who compiled this report.