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WEEK ZERO FOOTBALL: John Glenn unable to hang with Magnolia’s Mr. Cooper

By Loren Kopff

ANAHEIM – The young John Glenn football team, with 16 sophomores, 13 juniors and nine seniors on its 2013 roster took the field last Thursday night against Magnolia hoping to contain Arizona State University signee Jamal Scott. But it was the Sentinels’ Larry Cooper who stole the spotlight at Handel Stadium.

Cooper rushed for 121 yards on eight carries with a pair of touchdowns and caught two other touchdown passes totaling 61 yards as the visiting Eagles were crushed 41-20 in their season opener. Scott, who rushed for 55 yards and scored on a one-yard push five minutes into the game, left with an injury before halftime and didn’t return. That’s when Cooper took over and turned a close game into the rout, aided by three first half Glenn fumbles.

“Those young kids were the ones who made those drastic mistakes,” said John Glenn head coach Ray Niemann. “The young kids have to step up and sometimes when the kids are down, they’re down. That’s the battle now-keep the consistency.”

The first of those three fumbles came on a muffed punt after Magnolia’s opening possession, which led to Scott’s touchdown. A fumbled snap on the first play following the touchdown gave the hosts the ball again, but the Sentinels went three and out. Glenn was showing some promise when senior running back Angel Rochin picked up 21 yards on a fake punt but the Eagles eventually punted to begin the second quarter.

The Eagles thought they were continuing the momentum when Magnolia muffed that punt but two fumbles in five plays in less than two minutes in between a Magnolia turnover led to Cooper’s first score, a nine-yard run, with 7:22 left in the first half that put the Sentinels in front 15-0.

Glenn finally put its offense in gear and went 78 yards on 10 plays in a little over four minutes to hit the end zone. Rochin cashed in from two yards out with 3:14 left in the half. Rochin carried the Eagles in the first half with 65 yards on 10 carries including 23 yards on a pair of fake punts. But he would be sidelined with a hip injury early in the third quarter and did not see action the rest of the game. Rochin also had six tackles.

“That took a dimension off because they couldn’t stop our option,” Niemann said of Rochin’s absence.

Magnolia scored twice in the final 1:32 of the first half to own a 28-6 halftime advantage and put the game away 102 seconds into the second half when Cooper raced 78 yards down the right sideline. After junior Martin Sanchez recovered another muffed punt, the Eagles went to junior quarterback Erick Galindo and he added the team’s second touchdown, a six yard run midway through the third quarter. But early in the fourth quarter, Cooper caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Adeel Akbar to make it a 41-12 contest. Senior halfback Steven Morones capped the game’s scoring with a 20-yard run, plus the two-point conversion, with 17 ticks left in the game.

“I think the fatigue factor after our offense began to stall a little bit…our defense got tired,” Niemann said. “Our [defensive backs] are young and they couldn’t stop the [Cooper].”

Junior running back Dominic Enriquez led Glenn with 90 yards on 14 carries and had nine and a half tackles while Morones added 52 yards on five touches and five tackles and Galindo chipped in with 51 yards on 17 carries.

Akbar completed 15 of 22 passes for 173 yards and the Sentinels rushed for 206 yards. Glenn will face Pioneer tonight at La Mirada’s Goodman Stadium. The Eagles, who have now lost four consecutive season openers, fell to the Titans 35-28 last season in the second game.

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