The Loggers came through their toughest test of the season in relatively easy fashion on Friday, defeating visiting Lincoln High 34-22 at Albee Stadium.
The Fighting Zebras, who feature a top Division-I recruit at quarterback and a deep and talented lineup, are ranked higher on MaxPreps than any of the Loggers’ other opponents this year.
But after a tight first half, the home team began to exert their dominance early in the third quarter, once again overcoming some self-inflicted wounds along the way.
“It was a great challenge for us,” Eureka head coach Jason White said. “That’s a pretty good team. But we also felt we had too many penalties. We kind of reverted back to that a bit.”
A roughing the kicker penalty on a Lincoln punt resulted in a first down and the visitors went on to score, cutting an early two-touchdown Eureka lead in half.
Other silly penalties cost the Loggers at times early in the game.
It was, however, also an impressive win for Eureka over a top Lincoln team ranked No. 121 in the state, according to MaxPreps.
“I was really proud of our kids that we were able to step things up and make plays,” White said.
Senior quarterback Cruz Montana had another big game, throwing for 240 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Montana threw TD passes to Isley Tulmau, Tyce Mullins and Robert Weir.
Mullins had another huge game on both sides of the ball, finishing with three receptions for 60 yards and a pair of TDs.
One of his two touchdown catches was on a throw from receiver Josiah Graham on a reverse.
Tony Barreno also scored a touchdown on a reverse run.
The Loggers took control of the game early in the third quarter, making a big defensive stand to start the period, and then marching down the field to score and stretch what had been a four-point lead at the interval.
Montana was key to the second-half surge.
“He’s very good right now, to be honest,” White said of his senior signal caller.
Tulmau was Montana’s favorite target once again, pulling in six catches for 130 yards.
On the ground, the Loggers ran for 170 yards, led by Weir, who had 66 yards on nine carries, and Alex Miller, who finished with 52 yards on 10 carries.
“We’re pretty efficient with what we do on offense,” White said. “And coach Garett Montana does a good job calling the offense. Our coaching staff works well together.”
Tulmau, in particular, was a handful for the visiting defense.
“He has a lot of yards after catch,” White said of the receiver. “He creates a lot of extra yards that way.”
Defensively, Mullins again led the way, finishing with around 13 tackles.
White also credited his defensive backs with a doing a good of containing Lincoln QB Tommy Turner, a 6-foot-5 top college prospect.
“They run a lot of screens,” White said. “It was a tough balance to try and get pressure and not get burned.”
The Loggers, who improved to 6-0, will host Livermore next weekend.