Nighthawks race past Heritage to win season opener, 48-14

Running back DJ Watts reaches over the goal line with the football for one of his three touchdowns Friday night. (Staff photos)   By Doug Sp...

Running back DJ Watts reaches over the goal line with the football for one of his three touchdowns Friday night. (Staff photos)

By Doug Spoon, Editor

Murrieta Valley played a game of "catch me if you can" and visiting Heritage High couldn't. The result was a big victory for the Nighthawks in their football season opener Friday night.

Speedy senior running back DJ Watts rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns and junior quarterback Brandon Rose completed 20 of 24 passes for 198 yards and three scores as the Nighthawks took an early lead and ran way from the Patriots, 48-14.

With Watts and senior Dean Connors streaking through the defense for big gains, often finished off by dragging opponents for extra yardage, Murrieta Valley dominated the game from start to finish. Wide receiver Tiger Bachmeier also had a big night, with six catches for 60 yards and a touchdown.

It took only a few seconds for the Nighthawks to jump out to the lead. Connors returned the opening kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown, finding a seam in the defense and racing untouched into the end zone. When Heritage followed with a three-and-out on its first offensive possession, the Nighthawks' home crowd – limited to preserve social distancing – had something to cheer about.

Murrieta Valley then took advantage of its first offensive series, driving 44 yards to score on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Rose to Tayven Lamprey. The PAT kick failed, but the Nighthawks had a 13-0 lead just over four minutes into the game.

Murrieta Valley led 20-0 late in the first quarter after Connors outjumped a defender just over the goal line on a 1-yard pass reception from Rose. Heritage fought back with a 77-yard scoring drive of its own, featuring two pass receptions and three runs by Kanye Young, the last being a 33-yard run for the TD.

Unfortunately for the Patriots, Murrieta Valley stormed right back with another scoring drive to take a 27-7 lead before halftime. The touchdown came on a 5-yard run by Watts, who dragged three Patriot defenders the last 3 yards to get across the goal line.

Heritage missed an opportunity on its first possession of the third quarter, driving from its own 20-yard line to the Murrieta Valley 10. Quarterback Hayden Lara tried to connect with Naisir Morrow with a fourth-down pass to the goal line, but a strong hit from the defender knocked the ball loose and the Nighthawks took over on downs.

A Murrieta Valley fumble gave Heritage the ball back, however, resulting in Heritage’s only other touchdown of the game. Two plays after lineman Nigel Cash recovered the fumble, on the Murrieta Valley 16-yard line, Young scampered 9 yards for the TD.

Young carried 8 times for 71 yards and 2 touchdowns for Heritage. The Patriots’ leading rusher was junior Frank Tavake, who carried 10 times for 92 yards. Lara, playing in his first varsity game, completed 6 passes for 59 yards.

Murrieta Valley finished out the scoring with a 16-yard TD pass from Rose to Connors, an 8-yard run by Watts, and a 7-yard run by Watts.

The Nighthawks play host to Great Oak in a league game next Saturday.

Dean Connors turns the corner to pick up yardage in the first half for Murrieta Valley Friday night.

DJ Watts on one of his runs on the way to three touchdowns in the Nighthawks' victory.


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