Photos by Tucker Judkins
Two critical goal line stands by the South Pasadena defense solidified the Tigers’ first CIF berth in 12 years on Friday, November 6, when the Tigers topped the Temple City Rams 14-12 in a nail-biting win.
The first quarter didn’t look promising for the Rams as their offense came out flat to open their Homecoming night. An early Ram fumble was recovered by junior cornerback Jalen Ross to extinguish Temple City’s first drive. The Tiger offense had difficulty finding any yardage in their first drive, and turned the ball over on downs after they failed to convert.
The Rams then took possession of the ball and never looked back, as Temple City took the ball downfield with authority and scored the game’s first points with a touchdown. The extra point attempt bounced off of the left goalpost, but the damage was done and the Tigers found themselves down 6-0.
Senior running back Jason Takarabe rallied the South Pas offense and moved the Tigers to the Rams’ portion of the field. This would put senior quarterback Michael Partida in perfect position to sneak past the Temple City defensive line and score a touchdown. The Tigers did not miss their extra point, and now lead 7-6.
Both the Rams and Tigers then suffered a loss of energy, neither offenses able to produce any viable headway. This would change with junior fullback Thomas Huff stunning the Temple City defense on a 30 yard touchdown rush past the Ram line to put the Tigers up 14-6 following the extra point. With 1:09 left in the first half, South Pas looked to keep the intensity up. The Rams were threatening deep in South Pas territory with little time left in the half when the Tiger defense came up huge. The Rams ran a speed option, and after the ball was pitched, the Temple City running back set to receive it was hammered and lost control of the ball, which was then recovered by junior linebacker Ben Quirk. Although South Pasadena’s attempt at a Hail Mary to close out the half ended in an interception, the team was in a great position, as they were set to receive the second half kickoff.
The third quarter was identical to the first, in that neither offense could find much room to work with. Temple City running back Paul Kosanovich broke this silence when he reached the Tigers’ four yard line, giving the Rams an easy opportunity to reclaim the lead. South Pas committed a false start on the line of scrimmage, bringing the ball to the two yard line for the Rams. Although the situation was dire for the Tigers, two delay of game penalties were called on the Rams, and Temple City burned two straight timeouts. Now fourth and goal at the 14 yard line, the Rams attempted one of four total passes on the night, only to have it swatted away by sophomore safety Sydney Luna-Long.
After failing to convert any viable yardage, the Tigers’ defense was given one final test as the Rams now had possession going into the home stretch of the game. With seconds left in regulation, the Rams were desperate for any headway and faced a third and long situation. Temple City miraculously reached the endzone on a pass to the far right side of the endzone to put the score at 14-12 with all zeros on the clock. Many South Pasadena players and coaches were certain that the game had ended prior to the final snap, but the officials ruled that the touchdown would stand. All the Rams needed now was a two point conversion to tie the game up and send it to overtime. The demoralized Tigers once again took their place on the line to defend their lead. Players from both teams lined up ready to finish the game in their favor. With both crowds on their feet, it would be the Tigers who proved victorious after stuffing the Rams at the line and then some, pushing the ball carrier back four yards, solidifying the 14-12 victory and a playoff berth.
“I really love the way this team played together as a unit all year and it came together right there [at the last play of the game],” head coach CB Richards said. “It wasn’t just one guy tonight, it was the whole team doing different things for a common goal.”
The Tigers’ first opponent in CIF-SS playoffs has yet to be announced.
“We all came together as a team and didn’t allow an overtime. Our defense held up in the end,” senior middle linebacker Anthony Bakhshi said. “If we play the same way as we played tonight, I feel good with our chances going into CIF.”