Football drops second straight game, falls to 1-2 in league

By Alex Nakagawa

Assoc. Sports Editor

Its tough for any team to recover after a resounding 43 point loss to its in-county rival. The South Pasadena varsity football team were unable to generate a consistent offense, as they fell to six-time defending league champion Monrovia High School in a defensive-oriented 6-32 matchup. Several key mental lapses on both ends of the field allowed Monrovia to convert on big plays for lots of yardage per carry and per reception.

“We had a nice streak going at the beginning of the season,” junior wide receiver and defensive end Max Luck said. “It especially hits [the team] hard when you lose all your momentum to your rival. I think it played a big factor into the effort we put tonight. We need to come out more dynamic rather than flat.”

The defensive squad had its big moments during the game, forcing 3 fumbles as well as one recovering a fumble and tackling twice for losses, including a 10 yard sack three minutes into the third quarter led by junior Jeremy Gabler and defensive lineman Jeremy Escandon. However, the Tigers’ pass defense allowed long streaks when Monrovia’s receivers reached the open field. The Wildcats ended up converting on 75% of their third down conversions, including a play when the line of scrimmage was 21 yards away. The Monrovia defense was relentless as well, utilizing their size advantage to block the holes in the defensive line.

“I think we failed to execute our defensive assignments when it counted the most,” Luck said. “Those are fixable mistakes that we can mend in practice.”

Both teams started in a deadlock defensive game. In the first quarter, the first drive of the game was led by junior quarterback Michael Partida as well as healthy contributions from senior halfback Matthew Ayala and senior fullback Alton Phillips. The drive ended when a Partida pass to senior running back Ernesto Jauregui was ruled out-of-bounds by the referee. South Pasadena was then able to stop Monrovia on a fourth down attempt on the outskirts of the Tigers’ goal line. After a South Pasadena punt, the Wildcats finally scored the first points of the game after a rush by Monrovia running back Jordan Nathan with 1:49 left in the first quarter made it 0-7 in favor of the Wildcats. Nathan ended the game with 3 touchdowns. The quarter would end after Phillips converts two first downs.

Both teams would again start the second quarter showcasing their defensive efforts. At 6:55, a poor snap from Monrovia ended up with a Tigers fumble recovery by junior lineman Anthony Bakhshi on their own 45. However, the Tigers would be stopped short on a 4th down attempt and Nathan cashed in his second six-pointer right before the half, with the Wildcats up 0-14.

“We need to start out the game at a faster pace,” sophomore quarterback Jalen Ross said, “that’s something we’ve been trying to work on.”

The scoring drought would continue for South Pasadena in the 3rd quarter despite strong 13 and 11 yard runs by Jauregui and Ayala, respectively, during the Tigers fifth drive of the game. Monrovia senior captain Octavius Spencer would run 18 yards for the Wildcats’ third touchdown, and a good two-point conversion would see the Tigers down 0-22. With 46 seconds left in the 3rd, Monrovia kicker Blake Cusick drilled a 42 yard field goal to make it 0-25. Despite the continuing downpour, Ross was able to generate some well-needed momentum with a 42 yard kick return. The third quarter ended with a 40 yard screen pass to Phillips, who would run it th the Wildcats’ 28 yard line.

Determined to put themselves on the scoreboard, the Tigers would finally reach the endzone with an Ayala 4 yard carry to make the game 6-25 after a missed 2-point conversion. Hoping to put an ending statement, the Wildcats would come right back with a 51 yard rush by Jordan Nathan again, topping off his triple-touchdown game. The game ended with a 6-32 score.

“I think this was a good game for us,” sophomore quarterback Jalen Ross said, “after competing with the two strongest teams in league, it has given us the opportunity to raise our game to another level.”

With the beef of the Tigers’ schedule behind them, the team looks on to the game against Temple City at home, which will be held on the day of the school’s homecoming. The Tigers are now 1-2 in league and 5-3 overall. The Tigers fell to the Rams last season 13-48.