Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division fans: If Friday night’s opener between South San Francisco and Sequoia High School is a barometer of things to come, then boy, are you in for a treat.
In one of the wildest games you’ll ever experience, South City used two gigantic plays in the last 5:32 of the game to shock the Cherokees and come away with a 36-28 win.
First, after Sequoia’s Mike Taylor broke a 21-point tie with his fourth rushing touchdown of the game, South City’s Orlando Garcia took the ensuing kickoff 91 yards to the house to make it a 28-27 game. A penalty on Sequoia during that play gave South City the ball on the 1 1/2 yard line and Moro chose to go for the two-point conversion — gambling a bit on his defense and his running game.
The move paid off, with Anthony Shkuratov plowing his way in for a 29-28 South City lead with 5:18 left in the game.
"It was crazy,” Moro said of the finish. "That kickoff return was amazing. We haven’t had one of those in years. I thought [going for 2] could really change the complexion of the game. I would say it took a second of thought but I had a good feeling about it.”
But the craziness only began there.
Following a stalled Sequoia drive, South City added to their lead on a 48-yard touchdown by Keven Cuhna with 1:24 left in the game. With the crowd going nuts behind him, Cuhna chose to score instead of taking a knee near the goal line and kneeling away the finals second of the game since Sequoia had no more time outs. That move almost came back to hurt South City.
That’s because Taylor wasn’t done with his night. With 1:18 left and the ball on his own 22-yard line, No. 8 drove his team down the field, hitting Liam Cotter on a couple of huge pass plays to give the Cherokees 1st-and-goal from the South City 6-yard line.
Two plays later, as Tommy Lopiparo fought for extra yards, he fumbled the football just before reaching the goal line and the South City defense pounced on the football for a touchback, thus securing the win for the Warriors and handing Sequoia their first loss of the year.
"This is where you want the instant replay cameras and everything,” said Sequoia head coach Rob Poulos. "You hate to see it end on that.
"We shot ourselves in the foot in those last two drives of the first half. Then, we take the lead and the last thing you want to see is kickoff return to the house. That’s deflating and makes it tough. That’s the first break down we’ve had since we fixed some stuff after Week 1.”
"We talk about it all the time,” Moro said about playing a complete football game in all three phases of the game. "We drill it into them. That kickoff return, there were a couple blocks that were crucial and people have to realize that. There are so important.”
South City came out to start the game like a team starving for a touchdown. They used 14 plays and worked their way 75 yards, scoring from two yards out on a Shkuratov touchdown. But Sequoia responded right back with an impressive, methodical drive of its own. The Cherokees only needed five plays to tie things up on a Taylor run. No. 8 would score again 14-7 with 4:49 left in the half.
But that’s when South City’s defense took over and made Taylor look human. The Warriors intercepted back-to-back Sequoia passes. The first, they turned into six points on a touchdown. And the second, it took them nine plays to march 25 yards just before the half time horn.