DRAPER Emery's touches were few and far between as Juan Diego (1-0, 4-3) dominated the clock behind its running game Friday night in the Region 8 prep football battle.
All five of the Soaring Eagle scores in the 35-13 victory came on the ground.
"It's really just a relief to get that first region win," said Juan Diego quarterback Corey Lever.
The Soaring Eagle (4-3 overall, 1-0 Region 8) led from the get-go, building a 14-0 margin after the first quarter. Both Soaring Eagle scores came on runs by quarterback Lever the first from 5 yards out and the second on a 31-yard scamper. Ryan Finley added the two extra points.
The defense for the Spartans (5-2, 1-1 region) was on its heels all night. Juan Diego drove down the field using run after run and eating up the clock in the second quarter. The defense finally put up a road block to stop the run when it needed to, getting the ball back on its own 20 with 4:13 left to play in the half after holding Juan Diego on fourth down.
Emery's offense sputtered but caught a break off a high punt snap that resulted in a first down after the punter, Chance Arlotti, picked it up and dashed down the sideline 20 yards. That was the momentum Emery needed as it strung together a drive that resulted in a one-yard touchdown grab by Jordan Gee from Dempsey Jeffs.
The momentum wasn't enough for the second half. Juan Diego stuck with its game plan and punished the Emery defense behind Brayden Dimond's two second-half touchdowns. The breaks also started to go the way of the Soaring Eagle as well. With the fourth quarter under way, Dennis Larsen had the ball pop out of his hands at the 1-yard line and into the hands of Lever for Juan Diego's final score.
Lever's three touchdowns led the way for the Soaring Eagle, while Dimond chipped in two scores. Dimond rushed for 97 yards, tops for Juan Diego, which totaled 278 rushing yards as a team.
"That's our offense, to try and hang on to the ball and deny opposing teams opportunities," said Juan Diego coach John Colosimo. "We've been so beat up at running back and Dimond came in and did great. We haven't started the same lineup all year."
Gee and Jeffs connected again in the second half to provide Emery's other score.
"I think they just wore us down in the second half," said Emery coach Jim Jones. "We had some momentum but couldn't keep it going there."