Football pulverizes Alhambra in final preseason game

Story by Solana Singer
Staff Writer

Photo by Samantha Shiroishi
Photo Editor

South Pasadena football triumphed over the Alhambra Moors 46-7 on Friday, Sept. 15, looking forward to beginning league play with five preseason wins under their belt.

“We feel very happy about the way we have come out of this preseason, and we’re looking forward to the league,” Head Coach Jeff Chi said. “Hopefully we’ll have similar success.”

The action-packed first quarter began with an immediate long run by senior running back Luke Riffle. 30 seconds later, in a separate play, senior wide receiver Elijah Garcia scored a 52-yard rushing touchdown for the first victory of the night, putting six points on the board for the Tigers. 

Senior punter Sawyer Fox made a deep kickoff into Alhambra’s end zone, allowing the rest of South Pasadena’s defense to quash any offensive attempts. After an interception by senior cornerback Harrison Farley, the Tigers took possession of the ball. Senior running back Devin Robinson showed off a clean short run, dodging the Moors’ defense to gain a couple yards. Three minutes in, senior running back Gio Cruz made a run just short of the end zone, tackled at the four-yard line. Receiving a handoff from junior quarterback Zachary Lee, senior running back Jason Hong slammed into Alhambra defense yards away from their end zone. On his second try, Hong reached the end zone for a two-yard rushing touchdown with seven minutes to go. Fox scored the extra point for a tally of 13-0. 

Junior middle linebacker Alessandro Jemai made a crucial tackle to block an Alhambra wide receiver from continuing a long run. Following several great passes from Lee to Fox and junior tight end James Dowd, three consecutive handoffs from Lee to Hong led to another rushing touchdown with two minutes remaining. Fox successfully kicked the conversion point; the scoreboard read 20-0 SPHS.

Junior cornerback David Eisenberg quickly intercepted a Moor pass, returning the ball to South Pasadena’s offense. With a minute left on the clock, Hong received a handoff from Lee to score a 24-yard rushing touchdown, his third and the Tigers’ fourth of the game. Incomplete passes from both teams ended the quarter.

During the quarter break, the crowd applauded for SPHS pep, who performed with the middle school’s Tigerettes and SPUSD elementary students for Community Spirit Night.

Quarter two started off strong with a great pass from Lee to Garcia. A minute later, the Tigers recovered a fumble.  With eight minutes left, Lee completed a lengthy 46-yard throw to Fox for a passing touchdown. Fox kicked the point after, boosting South Pasadena’s score to 33.

Fox’s subsequent punt found the two teams all the way in the Moors’ end zone, where Eisenberg made a spotless tackle to curb an Alhambra run. Farley aptly caught the rebound from the other team’s punt with six minutes on the clock, turning the ball over to South Pasadena. Senior quarterback Liam Ohannesian made a series of great passes each to Fox, Dowd, and Garcia. With a minute left in the half, Ohannesian handed the ball off to Hong for a two-yard rushing touchdown. Fox kicked the extra point for a total score of 40-0, ending the first half on a high note for the Tigers.

The SPHS marching band and colorguard joined forces to wow the crowd with “The Voyage,” an elaborate field show, during halftime.

Fox opened quarter three with a strong kickoff. A sequence of short runs on both teams, quelled immediately by tackles, followed, remaining the only action until four minutes in, when an incomplete Alhambra pass turned possession over to South Pasadena. With seven minutes left, Hong breached the Moors’ defense with a handoff from Ohannesian. A beautiful pass from Ohannesian had Robinson falling to the ground to successfully catch the ball. Receiving a pass from Ohannesian a minute later, Dowd pushed on a few yards despite being dragged backwards by the Alhambra defense. To finish off the scoreless quarter, Cruz made a key tackle.

Sophomore running back Trey Freking initiated the action of the fourth quarter with a long run a little more than a minute in. Four minutes in, Freking continued to control the field, scoring an eight-yard rushing touchdown for a tally of 46-0.

Play resumed uneventfully, with the Tigers spending the last five minutes of the game defending their end zone from the Moors. With a minute left, Alhambra rushed a touchdown and scored the extra point, putting their first seven points on the board. South Pasadena took possession and ran the clock to the game’s end, winning with a final score of 46-7.

“We took all,” Robinson said. “We didn’t take any of this for granted. We wanted to come out here, punish our opponents, get ready for league, because that’s what matters.”

The Tigers cruised through their preseason undefeated, winning all five games. They will use their upcoming week to prepare and strategize for next week’s Color Day game against San Marino, their first league match this season.

“We don’t make physical mistakes; we only make mental mistakes,” Lee said. “Tonight we made very few mental mistakes, and that’s what led us to victory.”

The Tigers will play the San Marino Titans at home at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29.

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