Griz­zlies come­back falls short

Gran­ite Hills falls 29-27 to Sierra Pa­cific

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE - By NAYIRAH DOSU ndosu@porter­villere­corder.com

The road to the play­offs got a lit­tle tougher for Gran­ite Hills High School foot­ball team af­ter a sec­ond-half come­back fell short in the Griz­zlies 29-27 loss to Sierra Pa­cific in Fri­day evening’s East Se­quoia League game at Ja­cob Rankin Sta­dium.

In need of just one more win to go .500 in league, Gran­ite Hills (2-6, 2-2 ESL) chances of get­ting that win against Sierra Pa­cific (4-4, 2-2 ESL) slipped away in the fi­nal minute of the game af­ter SPHS An­drew Lehner took a kick­off across mid­field be­fore be­ing tack­led on the Griz­zlies’ 32-yard line. Down 27-26, it took six plays for the Golden Bears to move the ball to the 4-yard line, where on fourth down, SPHS kicker An­thony Val­dovi­nos knocked down an 11-yard, game-win­ning field goal with 26 sec­onds left in the game.

It was a heart­break­ing loss for the Griz­zlies af­ter scor­ing 27 unan­swered points in the sec­ond-half and eras­ing a 26-0 deficit.

“It’s a good foot­ball game,” GHHS head coach Dan Wil­liams said. “That’s what foot­ball’s all about. Some peo­ple gotta win, some peo­ple gotta lose.”

Af­ter giv­ing up two touch­downs in just two min­utes to start the third quar­ter, some­thing changed for Gran­ite Hills and their run game picked up. Us­ing it, they moved the ball from their own 39-yard line to the Golden Bears’ 4-yard line and se­nior Ja­son Al­varez was

able to rush for the team’s first touch­down. On the Griz­zlies next drive, se­nior Domingo Colin scored a 70-yard touch­down run just as the clock was wind­ing down to close out the quar­ter with Gran­ite Hills down 26-13.

Their mo­men­tum car­ried into the fourth quar­ter with the Griz­zlies re­cov­er­ing a Sierra Pa­cific fum­ble on their own 40yard line and once again mov­ing the ball down­field with the help of the run and Al­varez scor­ing

a 3-yard touch­down run.

Gran­ite Hills’ fi­nal score of the game started off like the pre­vi­ous one but with bet­ter field po­si­tion af­ter the Griz­zlies re­cov­ered a fum­ble on the Golden Bears’ 42yard line. Mov­ing the ball to the 10-yard line, ju­nior quar­ter­back David Ramirez hit Colin for a touch­down pass and with 1:27 to go, sopho­more Max Jimenez ex­tra point was good to give Gran­ite Hills’ the slim 27-26 lead.

Jimenez was 3-for-3 on PATS and the Griz­zlies had one un­suc­cess­ful 2-point con­ver­sion.

The Griz­zlies at­tempted an on-side kick on the

fol­low­ing kick­off but were flagged for a false start which set up Lehner’s big re­turn.

“Pas­sion, de­sire,” Wil­liams said about dif­fer­ence be­tween the Griz­zlies’ two halves. “They came out in the sec­ond half with a lit­tle bit more fire, lit­tle bit more ex­cite­ment. I just thought we started real slow. It seems like that’s our forte here, is we’re a sec­ond-half team. We [gave] up a [bad] kick­off re­turn.”

Gran­ite Hills could barely move the ball across mid­field in the first half and of the four touch­downs they gave up be­tween the sec­ond

and third quar­ter, three of the Golden Bears’ scor­ing drives started in or near the Griz­zlies’ red zone af­ter Gran­ite Hills fum­bled the ball on their own 14-, 25- and 19-yard line, re­spec­tively.

“How many times we turn the ball over, three times?,” Wil­liams said. “If you turn the ball over, you’re not go­ing to win very many games. Just some silly er­rors. Not tak­ing the hand­off cor­rectly. We gave up early and that hurt.”

A trip to the CIF Cen­tral Sec­tion Di­vi­sion VI play­offs are still in the cards for Gran­ite Hills if they can beat one of the ESL’S top two teams

— Div. VI Strath­more (7-1, 3-1 ESL) or Div. V Wood­lake (7-1, 4-0 ESL) — in one of their fi­nal two games. The Griz­zlies host the Spar­tans, Fri­day, Oct. 19.

“It’s a def­i­nite up­hill bat­tle be­cause we need a win,” Wil­liams said. “We need one win, I think, to get us in the play­offs to be .500 in league. And it’s not an easy road. Think about it, we’re go­ing in to play Strath­more. They’re a good foot­ball team, they’re well coached. I like the way our kids fin­ished the game. If we could come out with that kind of pas­sion, I think we can play with a lot of teams.”

RECORDER PHO­TOS BY CHIEKO HARA

Gran­ite Hills High School’s Ja­son Al­varez runs with the ball dur­ing the third quar­ter of a game against Sierra Pa­cific High School at Ja­cob Rankin Sta­dium in Porter­ville.

Gran­ite Hills High School’s Domingo Colin runs with the ball to score Griz­zlies sec­ond touch­down dur­ing the third quar­ter of a game against Sierra Pa­cific High School at Ja­cob Rankin Sta­dium in Porter­ville.

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