Bell-Jeff went into the meeting ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Northeast Division.
The Guards (2-1) struck first early in the first quarter, after Diaz found Micah Shirley for a 33-yard touchdown strike. Diaz threw the ball 47 times, completing 26.
Shirley and Kevin Yuenyonsakul both had more than 100 yards receiving, as the two combined for all three touchdowns.
Down, 7-0, the Sharks tied the score on the ensuing possession, driving 59 yards, mostly on the ground, and milking just over six minutes off the clock. The final play of the drive saw Malibu quarterback Victor Tyler sneak into the end zone from four yards out for the touchdown.
With the score tied late in the second quarter, Diaz dropped back and threw an interception that was brought back to the Guards’ 5-yard line with 52 seconds remaining.
The Sharks (1-1) needed just five seconds to capitalize on the mistake. Senior Kyle Parker bulldozed his way to the end zone, for the first of two rushing touchdowns for the offensive lineman.
The Sharks took the lead into halftime, and did not relinquish it in the second half.
The Sharks countered the Guards’ passing game with an effective running game that had the Bell-Jeff defense on the field longer than they would have liked.
“They were able to run the ball on us and kill the clock,” Aguirre said. “The concept was to hold the ball so we wouldn’t be able to throw the ball on offense, and it worked beautifully.”
Malibu stuck to the game plan on offense at the beginning of the third quarter. A 13-play, 59-yard drive, increased the Sharks lead to 14-7 with 5:11 to go in the quarter.
This time, Parker ran it in from two yards out. On the drive that took up just under seven minutes, the Sharks did not pass the ball, and converted on fourth down two times.
Undaunted, the Bell-Jeff offense took the field again. A pair of touchdown passes from Diaz to Yuenyonsakul brought the Guards to within two, 20-18.
However, the Sharks’ defense made the necessary plays to hold on for the win.
“We fought back, and I’m happy about that,” Aguirre said. “They just capitalized on our mistakes.”
Despite another solid game by Shirley, he was disappointed with his play.
“I wasn’t prepared, wasn’t focused, and I didn’t play right,” said Shirley, who has caught five touchdowns in three games. “This one’s on me.”
Diaz continues to put up big numbers. On the season, he has completed 55 of 99 passes for 875 yards and nine touchdowns.