Ross, Uhl Lead Murrieta Mesa to Win Over Indian Springs

McKinley Ross prepares to enter the end zone on a 23-yard touchdown run in the first quarter of Murrieta Mesa's 45-14 victory. (Photo...

McKinley Ross prepares to enter the end zone on a 23-yard touchdown run in the first quarter of Murrieta Mesa's 45-14 victory.
(Photos by David Stovall)

By Aaron Rachman

Junior running back McKinley Ross rushed for 170 yards and three touchdowns Friday night while quarterback Peyton Uhl passed for 116 yards and two scores to lead the Murrieta Mesa High School football team to a 45-14 home victory over Indian Springs in its season opener.

The Rams took a 7-0 lead just 52 seconds into the game on a 23-yard run by Ross, and they never looked back. Mesa led 31-6 at halftime and allowed only a fourth-quarter touchdown the rest of the way to the Coyotes.

Murrieta Mesa got the ball back soon after Ross' first touchdown and mounted another scoring drive, which included a 39-yard pass from Uhl to Bryan Phan. Ross finished off the drive with a 32-yard TD run with 3:52 left in the first quarter.

Following a fumble by Indian Springs on its own 18-yard line, Uhl ran the ball in for another TD and a 21-0 lead.

"The offensive line was excellent in the first half," said Rams coach Justin Schaeffer (shown in photo at right). "McKinley Ross was very impressive on three long TDs where nobody touched him. That's the offensive line doing a really good job.

"That's great to see because we have some new guys there. We had some guys making their first start on the line. They opened up some gigantic holes."

Following those blockers, Ross scored his third TD of the game on a 54-yard run early in the second quarter. He amassed the 170 yards rushing on just five carries.

In the third quarter, Uhl threw touchdown passes to Rodrick Futrell and Austen Salcedo as the game turned into a rout. Even so, Schaeffer says he's looking for an improved performance next week at Rancho Verde.

The Rams made some big stops on defense -- Kolin DiFiore and Joseph Pinkava take down the Coyotes' quarterback at left -- but Schaeffer wasn't totally pleased with what he saw.

"Defensively, I thought we played like it was our first game," the coach said. "We had a lot of difficulty stopping them when they got into their double wing. They moved the ball a lot on us, even though they didn't score that much.

"Offensively, we scored 45, but we missed a lot of passes. When you get up big at halftime, you want to make sure you work on things you know you can do. I'm really glad we won the game, but I think we have a long way to go to be competitive in our next game."

Mesa receiver Phan was carried off the field with an injury suffered in the third quarter. The extent of the injury was not known at the end of the game.

Junior kicker Mateo Thompson made a 39-yard field goal and 6 PAT kicks for the Rams.

Senior wide receiver Rodrick Futrell crosses the goal line with an 11-yard touchdown reception.

Murrieta Mesa players salute their fans after the game. Next week, the Rams play at Rancho Verde.

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