Chaparral upsets Murrieta Mesa to get first Southwestern League win
By Tim Meehan
TEMECULA — In a season that began with many highs but was been driven to the lows of a winless league campaign, Chaparral felt pretty good about itself Friday night.
And deservedly so.
The Pumas knocked off Murrieta Mesa, the eighth-ranked team in Division 4, behind an opportunistic offense and a defense that simply had enough of losing in a 30-15 upset in which the Pumas never trailed.
“We felt like we played really well in spurts the last three weeks against good teams, but playing well in spurts isn’t good enough,” Chaparral head coach Jeremy McCullough said. “We were finally able to finish a game. It wasn’t perfect, but it was probably a 90 percent. We found a way to beat Mesa, who has been on a roll.”
The Rams (7-2, 2-2 Southwestern League) was looking to secure the win and head into next week’s showdown against Murrieta Valley with a shot at winning their first league championship. The Pumas (5-4, 1-3) had a different idea.
Chaparral made a statement from the first whistle when junior Stanley Dixon returned the opening kickoff 94 yards. It was a sign of big plays to come as the Pumas’ defense caused four turnovers, including three picks of Murrieta Mesa quarterback Jeff Miller.
“We know we’re a good football team and we were able to carry that confidence against a good team,” said senior defensive lineman Harrison Dover, who notched three sacks of Miller. “From our pregame talk to everything we did, it was all about confidence. We didn’t gloat or get crazy, we just knew we were going to come out and play well.”
Miller finished with 270 yards and two touchdown passes on 22 of 36 passing, but senior Drew Kuykendall picked him off in the fourth quarter and ran it back 23 yards for the deciding score. […]