TWO IN A ROW: Maranatha’s Omar Younger rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns to help the Minutemen to their second consecutive victory with a 38-7 win over visiting Desert Christian Thursday night.Staff photo by Keith Birmingham
By Keith Lair, SGVN
PASADENA - Omar Younger admits he’s small. But he’s not miniscule.
The senior is 5-feet, 7-inches and 170 pounds. However, in the first five Maranatha High School football games, that size wasn’t big enough to squeeze through the smallest of holes.
But suddenly, the holes that the Minutemen are creating are plenty big. Younger rushed for 181 yards and Maranatha scored its second consecutive victory, after opening the season with five defeats, with a 38-7 win over visiting Desert Christian on Thursday night.
It was the coldest night of the football season, but there was not a drop of rain during the nonleague game.
“It’s helped me a lot,” Younger said of the newfound holes. “Before there weren’t as many holes. We struggled. We tried to push and power through, but I’m not that big. I gave it my all.”
Younger rushed for two touchdowns, scoring from 62 and 33 yards out in the first half.
“The biggest difference is our offensive line is starting to play really well, which is opening things for Omar,” Maranatha coach Peter Karavedas said. “Omar struggled early, but it is more about our offensive line starting to put it together. Now they’re starting to play together and opening holes.”
It was a season-high rushing game for Younger, who had for 1,300 yards last season but has yet to hit 600 yards this season.
“The line has definitely improved,” Younger said. “We got help from (Blair transfer) Logan (McClain) and everybody else has stepped it up. It definitely has helped getting some lanes to pick and choose so I can get through.”
That was evident on Thursday’s game-changing play.
The Knights, trailing 3-0 after the Minutemen scored on the game’s opening drive, had the ball on the Maranatha 24 after a 48-yard run by Caleb Holifield. But he fumbled the ball and Errick Lee recovered.
On second down, Younger went to the outside, found one of those new holes, did a stutter-step and then a zig-zag on the defenders, and went 62 yards untouched for a touchdown to make it 10-0.
Maranatha scored on its first four possessions and led, 24-0, at the half. The Minutemen took advantage of four turnovers in the game.
Four plays after Younger’s long TD run, Josh Johnson came up with a Kurt Jolin fumble at the Knights 16. Sophomore quarterback Eli Snyder scored on a sneak to make it 17-0. Michael Cornell picked off a Steven Horner pass and two plays later, Younger was in the end zone on a 33-yard run.
Snyder threw two second-half touchdown passes, both 14 yards to Niko Dobbs. Dobbs had five receptions for 69 yards and Snyder completed six of 12 passes for 85 yards.
“When the line is playing as good as it is, it helps our young quarterback, too,” Karavedas said.
Darron McWhorter returned a Horner interception 45 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but it was called back because of an illegal block. Snyder engineered the final TD drive, hitting Dobbs for the score to make it 38-7.
The Knights only threw four passes, of which two were intercepted. Horner completed one pass for no yardage.