SAN BERNARDINO — Cajon football coach Nick Rogers teased Brayden Austin when his senior wide receiver and kick returner decided to safely slide onto a short kickoff instead of return it.
Austin made sure it didn’t happen again later in the game.
Austin returned a kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown with 3:21 remaining on the clock, as Cajon pulled out a 30-23 win over Aquinas in a wet and often sloppy nonleague game Friday.
“One of teammates told me to go left, and I just trusted him,” Austin said about the decisive return. “And coach had got on me about not returning one before… I had to make it happen.”
Cajon’s defense made sure a victory did not slip away.
Aquinas took possession without any timeouts and eventually turned the ball over on downs when Cajon sacked Dre Robles on third and fourth downs. Cajon’s defensive line applied a lot pressure throughout the game and recorded six sacks Friday. Tojuan Terrell had three of those, one that resulted in a safety.
“Our defense has been playing lights out for us, and they were able to help us overdone some turnovers tonight,” Rogers said.
Cajon (2-1) struggled with snap issues in the wet conditions, as three poor snaps help Aquinas score 17 of its points.
Two of those came on offense, and the third was on a punt in the fourth quarter. Aquinas took a 23-22 lead when JoJo Solis scored on a 2-yard run.
But Austin made sure Cajon immediately regained momentum when he returned the ensuing kickoff.
“It was really good to see him have the confidence to make a play like that,” Rogers said.
Cajon took a 6-0 lead when Damarian Harris scored on a 1-yard run in the opening quarter. Harris set up the score with a 61-yard run earlier on the drive.
Aquinas surged in front when Ronnie Roberts recovered a loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Cajon regained the lead when Evan Powell connected with Ian Beauregard for a 47-yard touchdown, helping Cajon take a 16-10 lead at halftime.