Football bounces back to defeat Monrovia for the first time in 19 years

Story by: Solana Singer

Staff Writer

Photography: Emiko Essmiller

Co-Design Editor and Staff Photographer

Tiger football vanquished the Monrovia Wildcats 56-28 on Friday, Oct. 6 after a robust back-and-forth on the Wildcats’ home field.

“I think we had a good game plan and we just wanted to interrupt or disrupt their timing and the patterns that they run,” Head Coach Jeff Chi said. “Just kind of everything clicked for us tonight.”

Action commenced when senior quarterback Liam Ohannesian completed a long pass to senior cornerback Luke Riffle within the first 30 seconds. Senior running back Jason Hong subsequently ran the ball up to Monrovia’s 15-yard line to set up an early touchdown. Receiving a handoff from junior tight end James Dowd, Hong rushed nine yards to score. Senior punter Sawyer Fox kicked the extra point for a tally of 7-0.

Fox punted past Monrovia’s end zone at kickoff. As the Wildcats took control of the ball, Tiger defense was handed a chance to shine, pushing their opponents back closer to their end zone. With eight minutes left on the clock, junior cornerback David Eisenberg blocked a Monrovia pass from completion, forced a tackle to end the following play, and tackled again to stop Monrovia from scoring a touchdown. A few minutes later, however, the Wildcats made it into the Tigers’ end zone for a passing touchdown, followed by a successful extra point. In response to Monrovia’s score, Eisenberg executed a smooth 90-yard kick return for a touchdown. Fox made the extra point, leaving the scoreboard at 14-7 with SPHS in the lead.

Senior running back Devin Robinson, receiving a pass from Ohannesian, scored another rushing touchdown of 56 yards with three minutes remaining. The extra point, kicked by Fox, boosted South Pasadena’s score to 21 to wrap up quarter one.

A 47-yard punt by Fox opened the second quarter. A minute into play, Monrovia secured a 60-yard rushing touchdown, along with its accompanying extra point, to add seven points to their score. With the ball back in the Tigers’ possession, Robinson spun to avoid Wildcat defense for a 15-yard return. After several downs spent hovering near Monrovia’s end zone, Hong finally broke through the opposing defense for a two-yard rushing touchdown. SPHS celebrated with a victorious extra point for a total score of 28-14. Following a touchback and a fumbled turnover to Tiger possession, Hong penetrated Wildcat defense once again to rush a touchdown with less than a minute left. Together with Fox’s extra point, South Pasadena ended the first half with a 21-point lead, 35-14.

Spectators at halftime enjoyed Monrovia’s pep performance, accompanied by fireworks to celebrate their homecoming.

The second half started off slow, with the Tigers primarily defending from the Wildcats. Five minutes in, Monrovia rushed a touchdown and scored their extra point, bridging the score gap by seven points. Hong made an elegant long run with three minutes left, dragged to the ground just shy of the Wildcat end zone. Several SPHS downs passed, each spent pressing closer and closer to a score; finally, Hong reached the end zone from only one yard away to win a rushing touchdown. Fox scored the extra point, bringing the Tigers’ score up to 42 versus the Wildcats’ 21. A touchback by South Pasadena ended quarter three.

The final quarter began. The Wildcats collected their second personal foul against the Tigers, then went on to force a touchdown and an extra point to raise their tally by seven points. With eight minutes left, Hong rushed from 25 yards away into Monrovia’s end zone. Fox reliably followed suit with the extra point. The scoreboard glowed 49-28 in favor of South Pasadena.

Play dragged on until four minutes remained, when junior running back David Ortega tumbled into the Wildcat end zone for a rushing touchdown. Fox’s extra point raised SPHS’s score to 56-28, the tally that would stand as the final. At four minutes left, Dowd slammed a Monrovia pass to the ground, closing out the notable activity of the half as the teams ran the clock to reach the game’s close.

“It was a little revenge game,” Hong said. “I mean, these guys are picked ahead of us [in] almost every news source, so we just came out and proved ourselves.”

“This is a great win for us because we’ve had a long history of some great games against Monrovia, but we haven’t been able to win,” interim Athletic Director CB Richards, who attended the game, said. “It’s [been] about 19 years of no victories over this team . . . [and] it’s nice to see the boys bounce back. That’s the sign of a really good veteran team.”

The Tigers will take on the Temple City Rams away at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12.

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