For the first time since 2001, the Dos Pueblos Chargers have won a CIF-Southern Section football playoff game. The Chargers rallied with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for a 29-16 victory over Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo.
After scoring first on a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kellen Roberts to standout wide receiver Cyrus Wallace, the Chargers watched as their seven point lead turned into a nine point deficit.
Mission Prep, led by running back Brayden Corona and quarterback Bryce Fledderman, rattled off scoring drives of 50, 10, and 80 yards to take a 16-7 lead with 2:39 remaining in the third quarter.
After Royals kicker Kyle Continente made a 35-yard field goal to put his team on the board, Corona returned a punt to the Charger 10 -yard line. From there, Fledderman connected with Joseph Miller on a fade pass in the back of the end zone. Dos Pueblos defensive end Marcellous Gossett blocked the extra point, keeping the score 9-7 going into halftime.
"Our defense played outstanding in the first half and we didn't do much to help them out," said Dos Pueblos head coach Nate Mendoza.
After a long Charger drive ended with a missed field goal, Fledderman hit Corona on a 15-yard wheel route down the left sideline to put the Royals up 16-7. Corona finished the game with 26 carries for 112 yards and three catches for 56 yards.
With their season on the line, the Chargers went to where they've gone all year for a score. Roberts led an eight-play, 80-yard drive, connecting with Wallace three times and feeding the ball to running backs Blake Erwin and Irvin Miguel for an additional 50 yards. Miguel capped off the drive with a 6-yard carry up the middle for the score.
The Royals drove into Chargers territory but were forced to punt after a third down sack of Fledderman by Erick Nisich. Nisich notched three sacks on the night.
Dos Pueblos and Mission Prep traded punts, and the Chargers found themselves with possession of the ball with less than five minutes remaining in the game and down by two.
With their backs against a wall on their own 18-yard line, the Chargers had the drive of their lives. On a fourth-and-five, Roberts connected with Wallace for a 12-yard gain. After a 9-yard run by Miguel and an 11-yard catch by Gossett, the Chargers found themselves set up with second down on the Mission Prep 21.
Roberts was chased out of the pocket lobbed the ball to Wallace down the right sideline. Wallace somehow hauled in a circus catch in the end zone after the ball was deflected straight up off the defender.
"We feel like if we can throw the ball high enough, he can make the play," Mendoza raved about Wallace.
As the crowd exploded, the Chargers hurried back to the line of scrimmage and handed off the ball to Miguel who punched in the 2-point conversion to make the score 22-16 with 2:13 left.
"They were able to handle that last drive because we've been in so many similar situations throughout the year, where we had to perform at the end of the fourth," explained Mendoza.
Roberts finished the game 28-for-46 with 299 yards and two touchdowns. Wallace hauled in a whopping 17 receptions for 220 yards and both of Roberts' touchdowns.
Mission Prep got the ball with good field position thanks to a Dos Pueblos penalty, but senior defensive back Sam Drew made a diving interception to thwart the Royals. Erwin ran 46 yards and Miguel leapt into the end zone from 1-yard out with 17 seconds remaining to seal the Chargers' victory.
Dos Pueblos dedicated the win to wide receiver Tommy Johnson, who was in the intensive care unit earlier this week after being stricken by rhinovirus, enterovirus, and strep simultaneously.
"This team's got so much character and they wanted to get this win for their brother," Mendoza mentioned. "We're very happy that he's doing so well. We're really proud that we're going to get him back at least to watch another game."
Next Friday the Chargers take on St. Anthony High in the CIF Division 10 Quarterfinals.
"We've got bigger goals that we want to accomplish," promised Mendoza. "It starts with getting better tomorrow and having a great week of practice."