Grizzlies comeback falls short
Granite Hills falls 29-27 to Sierra Pacific
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.”
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.