Eli Luna burned Surrey with his feet and his arm in a 9-man game Saturday at Herb Parker Stadium. Then he sealed the game with his hands.
The TGU sophomore intercepted Surrey's Tayler Wallstrum in the final seconds to preserve a 26-18 Region 3 win in his quarterback debut.
"Surrey's a good team so there's always danger," Luna said. "I had faith in our guys and I was just in the right place at the right time."
Tim Chapman/MDN • TGU sophomore quarterback Eli Luna carries the ball between Surrey’s Brandon LaFountain, left, and Reiley Steier during a 9-man Region 3 game Saturday at Herb Parker Stadium. TGU’s Colter Thorp is pictured in the background.
It was Luna's offensive plays that helped the Titans (1-0) get a cushion. The former running back completed 8-of-16 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns.
"He's an experienced player but the quarterback thing is new to him ... so he's gonna make mistakes, but I thought he threw the ball real well," TGU coach Scott Thorson said. "He was a little banged up, he got hurt early in the game - he bruised his back - so we tried not to run him a lot. His biggest weapon is probably running the ball, but he threw the ball really well."
After running the ball nine times for 35 yards - numbers that would've been better if not for taking three sacks - in the first half, Luna carried it just twice in the second half.
Likewise, Surrey's top runner - junior Bryan Dye - carried twice in the second half before he was pulled with a possible concussion. Dye had 160 yards on 10 carries in the first half, including touchdown runs of 60 and 74 yards. He finished with 186 yards.
"That kind of hurt us, too, we lost our running back," Surrey coach Lyall Krueger said. "We're deep at that position so we were still able to still go there, but they beat us up a little bit. We just gotta get better and go back and get ready for North Star in two weeks."
The score was 12-12 at halftime, but TGU scored on two touchdown tosses to open a 26-12 lead. On 2nd-and-23 from their own 43-yard line, Luna hit sophomore wideout Hunter Schell in stride down the left sideline for a score. Schell finished with three catches for 92 yards.
"It's just a matter of they made the big play and we didn't," Krueger said.
Surrey (1-1) pulled within a score with less than three minutes remaining on a 37-yard connection from junior quarterback Brendan Larson to senior running back Reiley Steier. Larson rolled out to the right and scrambled back to left side of the field before finding Steier wide open downfield.
The Mustangs burned through all their timeouts early in the second half, but got the ball back with 35 seconds remaining after forcing a three-and-out from TGU's offense.
Surrey put Wallstrum in at quarterback to take some shots downfield, but Luna's interception preserved the Titans' win.
The Mustangs play at North Star on September 7, and TGU hosts Drake-Anamoose on Friday.