VALENCIA -- Tesoro running back Nate Tago didn’t get his hands on the football that much against Hart, but he made the most of his touches.
The junior running back scored four touchdowns and led his team to a 35-21 win over Hart at College of the Canyons in the season opener for both teams Friday night.
Tago only carried the ball 11 times for 61 yards, but he scored on runs of 6, 2 and 3 yards. He also caught three passes for 70 yards.
“I just told my linemen, give me a hole. I’ll make the rest happen,” Tago said. “That’s what they did. The thing you do with linemen is give them compliments. That gets them fired up, makes them block more.”
His longest play from scrimmage came on a 46-yard touchdown swing pass from quarterback Matt Adam. Tago scored three touchdowns in the first half to give Tesoro a 21-7 lead at halftime.
“The first half started really slow, four and out the first drive,” Tago said. “Matt wasn’t hitting his targets. I told the line, I’m going to step up right now. The line did a great job blocking, three touchdowns, it was just good work for the linemen.”
Tesoro opened the third quarter scoring a pair of touchdowns in 47 seconds. The first came on a 25-yard run by Adam that put Tesoro up, 28-7, with 6:47 to play in the third quarter. The second touchdown came on a 3-yard run by Tago, his fourth touchdown of the game.
Tesoro coach Brian Barnes said the two quick touchdowns in the third quarter were the difference makers.
“It helped solidify the game for us,” Barnes said.
Hart freshman wide receiver Trent Irwin had a big night in his varsity debut. He caught five passes for 69 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Both touchdowns came in the fourth quarter. He made the first catch of his varsity career in the first half and played a role in keeping the game close through the first two quarters.
“I think we can compete with them,” Irwin said. “I think mentally, we weren’t there, a couple mistakes away from actually being in the game. We learned as a team that we’re not invincible, but that we can hang with the top of the top.”
Tesoro recorded six sacks against Hart. Sophomore Connor Wingenroth was making the first varsity start of this high school career. He was sacked five times.
“That’s our philosophy. We’re going to put pressure on you,” Barnes said. “Our goal is to make the quarterback make mistakes.”
Cory Mayes, the regular starter for Hart who has been recovering from mononucleosis over the summer, saw limited playing time and was sacked once. He was 1-for-6 passing for 33 yards.
Wingenroth scored the first touchdown for Hart on a 71-yard run in the second quarter. He also had an interception, squelching a Tesoro drive at the goalline in the third quarter.
“Hart is a good football team,” Barnes said. “They got a bright future.”
Follow Tim Haddock on Twitter @thaddock.