Photos By Matthew Scholtz
With a 23-7 win over the Glendale Nitros on September 19, the South Pasadena High School football team is getting better and better each week. Despite a slow start, the Tigers were able to make big plays when they needed it the most, scoring all three of their touchdowns in the third quarter of play.
The only points of the first half came in the final seconds of the second quarter, when sophomore kicker Robert Amaral was able to squeak a 35 yard field goal through the uprights with 1:14 left in the game. The Nitros, despite crossing into the Tigers’ red zone three times, were unable to get past a determined South Pasadena defensive unit, who forced multiple turnovers on downs, and had key stops near the goal line. One defensive highlight included junior linebacker Christian Carter running down Glendale quarterback Julian Rovira for a 15 yard sack. First half penalties plagued both sides of the field, causing big yard losses.
“It feels awesome to win tonight,” senior halfback Matthew Ayala said, “we just have to make sure that we get the points going in the first half. We can’t rely to get big plays every game, but I’m proud of the way we played.”
The Tigers’ defense continued where they left off in the second half, and forced another turnover on downs on their own 38 yard line. The team then started an electrifying drive, as Ayala took a handoff from quarterback Michael Partida, and ran it up the middle for a quick 31 yard pick-up. Senior fullback Alton Phillips, who had a monster game last week against Hoover, brought the ball to the Nitro’s 10 yard line to make it 1st & goal. Partida threw a fade pass towards the right corner of the endzone where a wide open Max Luck was waiting, making the score 10-0.
Not to be outdone, Glendale recorded their only points of the game in the next possession. Glendale quarterback Rovira narrowly escaped the outstretched arms of imposing junior linebacker Jeremy Gabler, and threw a 30 yard bomb down the field to wide receiver Mateo Morris, who carried it all the way for a 63 yard touchdown, bringing the game back to within three points, 10-7. As a now confident Glendale team set up for the kickoff, the Tigers made a statement. Quarterback Jalen Ross, who was in at kick returner, fielded the Nitros’ kick at his own 2 yard line. Ross bolted up the right side of the field, zipping his way to an exhilarating 98 yard touchdown return, bringing the entire stadium to its feet. The crowd went wild as the Tigers’ lead had been extended and the Nitros’ potential momentum-shift had been utterly obliterated.
With 2:15 left to play, the Nitros were determined to cut the lead again, but great defensive plays from cornerback Max Garcia and Gabler forced the Nitros to their own 5 yard line. In danger of a safety, Rovira tossed a quick lob that was deflected by Ross, and collected by senior Ernesto Jauregui who returned it for 33 yard untouched pick 6, making the score 23-7.
“The only thing going through my mind was: score it score it,” Jauregui said, “I was in the right place when the ball hit [Ross’s] hands.”
With the win, the Tigers, advance to 2-1 on the season and are looking for the same result against the Alhambra Moors this Friday at 7:00 at home.
“We need work on our offensive front, and make sure that we keep up our defense,” Jauregui said.