FREMONT -- Without a doubt, American High football coach Bret Casey was worried about how his team would respond after a one-point Mission Valley Athletic League loss to rival Washington last week.
"I was concerned," admitted the second-year coach. "I thought last week was the best effort we put forth all year. We just try to move on."
Despite a sluggish start and watching Irvington take a one-point lead early in the third quarter, American scored 14 straight points to close out a 26-13 MVAL win Saturday night at Tak Fudenna Stadium.
The Eagles, despite last week's 28-27 loss to the Huskies, are still alive for at least a share of the MVAL title. Washington and Newark Memorial are each 3-0, and American and Moreau Catholic are tied for second at 1-1.
"Three years ago we were three-way league champions on the junior varsity team," Casey said. "We just have to finish off the last four games. Anything can happen in this league."
American (4-2, 1-1 MVAL) took a 6-0 lead when Kyle Barker hit Anthony Young with a 6-yard strike with 6:27 left in the second quarter. Baker finished 11 of 21 with 220 yards passing and a trio of touchdowns. Young caught three passes for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Teammate Segun Giwa had five receptions for 97 yards.
That American lead didn't last long. Irvington (3-3, 1-2) responded with an eight-play, 62-yard drive that culminated in a Jack Shank 18-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Roe to give the Vikings a 7-6 lead with 3:18 left in the second.
The Eagles reclaimed a 12-7 lead on a 6-yard Barker-to-Giwa touchdown pass with 0.7 seconds left in the second quarter.
For the most part, American's defense was effective. It allowed 193 yards of offense. But the Eagles gave up a couple of big plays. None was bigger than a 45-yard touchdown run by Ariel Hercik early in the third quarter that gave the Vikings a 13-12 lead. Hercik finished with nine carries for 103 yards and a touchdown.
"Two big plays is what they had," Casey said. "It seems we do a good job up until third down."
American countered with a methodical 12-play, 72-yard drive that was capped with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Barker to Young that put American up for good at 20-13 with 6:31 left in the third.
MVAL American 26, Irvington 13
American 0 12 14 0-- 26
Irvington 0 7 6 0-- 13
A — Young 6 pass from Barker (kick failed)
I — Roe 18 pass from Shank (Santana kick)
A — Giwa 6 pass from Barker (pass failed)
I — Hercik 45 run (kick failed)
A — Young 23 pass from Barker (Giwa pass from Barker)
A — Popal 2 run (kick blocked)
Rushing: A — Ramos 15-71, Lyell 18-68, Pinkney 11-47, Ried 4-32, Popal 4-25, Barker 6-(-31). Totals 58-211. I — Hercik 9-103, Shank 12-30, Jones 6-21, Lozoya 2-11. Totals 29-165. Passing: A — Barker 11-21-0 220. Totals . I — Shank 2-4-0 28. Receiving: A — Giwas 5-97, Young 3-61, Pinkney 2-40, Adair 1-22. Totals 11-220. I — Roe 1-18, Gusev 1-10. Totals 2-18. Fumbles/lost: A — 4/0, I — 0/0. Records: American 4-2, 1-1 MVAL; Irvington 3-3, 1-2.