Photos by Oscar Walsh
A shorthanded SPHS football team was unable to move the ball on offense on Friday night, falling 29-14 to the Alhambra Moors. South Pas kept the game close early, only trailing 15-7 at the half, but weren’t able to find much success after junior quarterback Samuel Luna-Long sat on the sidelines with an arm injury in the second half. The loss at home drops the Tiger’s overall record to 2-3, with one game remaining before league play.
The Tiger offensive line started the first half strong, controlling the line of scrimmage in the first quarter. With a running back rotation of juniors Ivan Estrada, Ethan Hong, and Quentin Pithey, South Pas was able to pick up multiple first downs on the ground. Following a fourth down conversion on a Hong six yard run, the Tiger drive was stopped at the Moor 45 yard line.
Following a punt from Luna-Long that pinned Alhambra at their own four yard line, the Tiger defense was able to force a three and out. On the ensuing Tiger drive, senior Jordan Bounyaseng broke free for a 40 yard run off a handoff to the right side. The 5’10” wideout sped past the Alhambra defense but tried to make a cutback at the 10 yard line and was caught by a Moor defender. The unnecessary cutback would come to haunt the Tigers when they coughed up the ball on the next play. Alhambra took advantage of the turnover and drove the length of the field for a touchdown to take the lead. A mix of short passes and inside runs slowly wore down the South Pas defense.
The Tiger offense was unable to respond in the following possession. On third and long, Luna-Long threw a long interception downfield as he was being heavily pursued by Alhambra linemen. However, the defense picked up the slack, as senior defensive back Johnny Xiao put the Tigers on the board with an interception and 30 yard touchdown return that electrified the crowd at Ray Solari Stadium.
“We’ve prepared for that play of theirs a lot in practice,” Xiao said. “I recognized the trips formation and jumped the route.”
Once again, however, Alhambra was able to respond with a long drive and touchdown run. In the second half, the Moors began to dominate the game. Missed tackles from the Tigers allowed Alhambra to pick up first downs. On the flip side, senior backup quarterback Jaden Gallego was unable to make accurate throws to South Pas receivers. Gallego was able to score the Tiger’s lone touchdown of the half on a one yard QB keeper.
“The turnovers killed our momentum, and that really hurt us tonight,” Head Coach Jeff Chi said. “Defensively, there were times where we were stopping their running game, but then as we lost momentum we started to miss tackles.
The Tigers will look to rebound in their final non-league game on the road against a physical Eagle Rock team next Friday.