RIALTO – Victory was there to be taken. All the Temescal Canyon football team needed was a few stops from their defense.
The Titans have been prone to big games this season so it wasn’t a safe bet. But the defense held up strong the whole way, stopping Eisenhower’s offensive twice on the fourth down to secure a 24-23 non-league win on Thursday.
“To see the defense step up when we really need it, I’m very proud of it,” said Cody Roelof, Titans coach.
The scoreboard showed a defeat for Eisenhower, but Thursday night was also a win for the Eagles. Eisenhower was one of a handful of domestic teams that didn’t play in the spring. The program’s first game in 21 months took place on Thursday.
“You don’t know how much you miss it until you get out of here,” said Eagles manager Al Brown. “It was great to see being part of this game night and seeing everyone pumped up again to play a game. That was really a victory in itself. ”
Eisenhower’s offense got off to a strong start with Kevon Osborne throwing touchdown passes to Alonzo Brown (60 yards) and Jacari Parker (34 yards) to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Temescal Canyon (2-0) used a short field and a pass interference penalty to get on the board at the beginning of the second quarter. Koa Apana topped off the fast drive with a 2-yard quarterback keeper to cut the deficit in half. The Titans leveled at 2:06 in the half when Apana scooped a pass to Ray LaFontaine for a 9-yard touchdown.
“These kids are amazing. They fight to the end and never give up, ”said Roelof. “You like to see that as a trainer.”
Temescal Canyon wasn’t done scoring yet. Cesar Ruiz grabbed a fumble to give the Titans the ball at Eisenhower 32. On the next play, Apana tossed a pass into the end zone, and Grant Givens made a spectacular catch, overtaking the ball after being kicked into the air by the defender. The touchdown gave the Titans their first lead of the game.
LaFontaine then blocked a punt with less than one minute left and Temescal Canyon had possession at Eisenhower 37. Ismael Figueroa hit a 28-yard field goal after time ran out to extend that lead to 24-14 at halftime.
“They hit us in the mouth in the first quarter and we just had to counter in the second quarter,” said Apana.
Eisenhower had canceled a touchdown because of a hold call in the third quarter, so the Eagles had to be content with a 30-yard field goal from Brandon Laguna to reduce the deficit to 24-17. Eisenhower advanced with a second and 37 after a bad snap, but Osborne stepped on Brown for an 82-yard touchdown in the final game of the third quarter. The attempt with an additional point, however, sailed a long way and left the Temescal Canyon one point ahead.
Eisenhower had two options to regain the lead in the fourth quarter, but both drives ended when the Eagles fell short with fourth and one. LaFontaine made the duel in the first of these two four-down games.
“It was a dog fight,” said LaFontaine. “It could have gone either way, so it just mattered who wanted it more. This team is so close and we don’t turn our backs on each other when things go wrong. We’ll just pull through like we did tonight. ”
Osborne completed 11 of 18 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns, and stormed 67 yards for 12 carries. Alonzo Brown caught seven of these passes from Osborne and finished Thursday with 213 yards.
“For most of these players this was the first time they have played a varsity game,” said Al Brown. “It will be a learning experience, but we’ll be back tomorrow and get back to work right away. We’ll get better with it. ”
Apana completed 10 of 19 passes for 137 yards and also led the Titans with 98 yards for 12 carries.