By Cory Kwok
Ryan Purington ran the opening second half kickoff 89-yards home for Damien, who went on to deliver Sierra newcomer South Hills a rude welcome into league play by posting a 35-21 win. It also marked a humbling milestone for the reeling Huskies, who’ve dropped five in a row for the first time since 1969.
Damien went four and out while South Hills was forced to punt on both possessions to keep the first frame scoreless. The Spartans received that kick on their own 41 with 1:51 to play as Enrique Zaldivar opened their second series with a 36-yard strike to Dorian Granados. Five plays later and five seconds into the second stanza, James Ramirez hit paydirt from two yards out to put Damien up first, 7-0.
South Hills responded by going five minutes and ten plays for 76 yards to tie the game. Vincent Hernandez screened Jordan Gutierrez for a 41 yarder before Jamel Hart scored from three out. Each team then went three and out before the Spartans took the lead for good as Zaldivar fired a 29-yard strike to Andrew Aguirre (4 receptions, 65 yds and 1 TD) to make it 13-7 with 2:57 remaining in the second.
The Huskies marched 10 plays from their own 17 to the 48 and were stuffed as Hernandez was sacked deep in the backfield to end the half.
Hernandez threw a screen pass to Gutierrez again, this time for a 77-yard paydirt hit after Purington’s touchdown kick return in the third and found Manny Alvarez wide open in the endzone for a 12-yarder to keep South Hills in the hunt. But Damien received a 22 yard field goal from Donny Hageman midway through the third quarter before the dagger drive by Gerardo Martin from five yards out with 52.7 seconds left in regulation.
Hernandez completed 16 of 29 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns, and Gutierrez finished with 9 receptions for 170 yards plus a score to lead the Huskies. Hart carried 27 times for 97 yards while the Spartans’ rushing attack was led by Ramirez’s 14 attempts for 94 yards.