Opening the game on a 78-yard scoring drive, you would think that it was Canyon, not San Fernando, that opened up the season with a win in the first game of the year.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys couldn’t keep pace with the Tigers in the second half as they overcame a 17-point halftime deficit to defeat Canyon 58-43.
“Execution-wise, we did a lot of great things offensively,” said Canyon head coach Joe Maiale. “I was thrilled with the way that we ran the ball, night and day. I was really happy with the progression. We talked about getting better from game one to game two. Well, we certainly got better today, but it just didn’t go our way.”
Showing no signs of last week’s lackluster performance against Crespi, the Cowboys used a balanced playbook as quarterback Aydyn Litz connected with receivers Colin Figeruoa and James Mendibles to begin the drive down the field.
Litz kept the driving going on a 25-yard designed draw to get into the Tigers red zone. Four plays, later Canyon lit up the scoreboard as kicker Jarrett Reeser drilled a 16-yard field goal right down the middle of the uprights.
San Fernando tried to get something, anything going on its first drive of the game, but constant pressure by Angel Vasquez, Evan Cox and Travis Dyson forced the Tigers to punt after a wild third-down play that saw quarterback Adrian Lopez scramble and elude multiple Cowboys players. However, Lopez was able to flick the ball to a teammate to avoid the sack.
Taking over at its own 44 yard line, Canyon needed just four plays to get its first touchdown of the season.
Running back Sam Nguyen began the drive with three punishing runs before Litz found Colin Figueroa over the middle for a 41-yard touchdown pass with 3:55 left in the first quarter to put Canyon up 9-0 after a missed extra point try.
Once again, the Cowboys’ defense answered the call by stopping San Fernando deep in its territory, but Lopez was able to avoid the sack and the Tigers were forced to punt.
One play into the second quarter, Canyon scored on a four-yard touchdown run by James Mendibles to continue the Cowboys onslaught.
The Cowboys didn’t let up, forcing San Fernando’s Lopez to throw an errant pass that defensive back Porter Lawler was able to get a hand on and tipped it to himself for the game’s first turnover with 11:52 left in the second quarter.
Three plays later, Canyon made good on the turnover as Nguyen executed three straight runs, scoring from one yard out to extend the Canyon lead to 23-0.
With just under a minute left in the first half, San Fernando running back Bradley Pierce busted a 66-yard run, escaping the clutches of multiple Cowboys. Canyon blocked the extra point try to hold a 23-6 lead heading into halftime.
“That’s a huge momentum shift. You can’t give up a score before halftime,” Maiale said. “These things happen and you have to get a stop in this situation, call a timeout to get the ball back, they hit a big play and we have to tip our caps. They did what they needed to do, took the momentum and they got the score and made it a one-score game and then shootout started. It’s just the way it goes.”
Needing a spark, the Tigers answered opening the second half with a 65-yard touchdown for by Felix Rodriguez to bring the score to 23-14 just over four minutes into the half.
Answering the call, Nguyen pounded the ball down the heart of Tigers defense. Capping the drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass, Litz found Reno Sifuentes on a fade in the back right corner to make it 30-14 Canyon.
“When he’s on and we are on schedule, we are tough to stop,” Maiale said of Litz. “He made a lot of those plays and kept us going. It’s tough to lose a game when you score 43, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. You play fast and you give up some points.”
San Fernando scored on the first play of its next drive on a 68-yard touchdown pass. The Cowboys were able to push the lead to 37-22 after Litz found Figueroa for a 15-yard score.
The Tigers answered with a 67-yard touchdown run and executed a two-point conversion to bring the score to 37-30 in Canyon’s favor.
San Fernando scored after recovering a punt in Canyon’s end zone to take a 38-37 lead, then scored again with a 25-yard touchdown reception.
Litz found Sifuentes on an 80-yard screen pass to bring the Cowboys within one, 44-43, but San Fernando quickly added an 80-yard touchdown of its own to put the game out of reach.
“This is just another step, we have to get better,” Maiale said. “We are coming into bye week so we have some time to clean up the mistakes we made and hopefully build on the good things that we did. This is a good football team, a lot of good kids and we are getting better. I’m proud of them because they fought hard all game.”
Trinity 46, Rivera 0
The Trinity Classical Academy football team earned its second win in a row to start the season, defeating Rivera 46-0 on the road Thursday night.
Lucas Mendoza got the scoring going for the Knights with a touchdown reception from quarterback Rick Roberts and then AJ Horning came up with a pick-six to put the Knights up 14-0 quick.
Roberts found Kyle Fields for a touchdown and then Roberts connected with a wide-open Horning for a score.
Mendoza caught his second touchdown pass of the night in the second quarter to give Trinity at 34-0 lead.
With just a few seconds left in the first half, Fields scored his second touchdown off a pass from Roberts to give the Knights a 40-0 halftime advantage.
Horning reached the end zone for the third time, catching another pass from Roberts.