(La Puente)- La Puente running back Nicholas Barrientos rushed for 174 yards and a pair of second half touchdowns to lead the Warriors to a 35-21 victory over the El Monte Lions Thursday night at McIntosh Field.
Late in the second quarter El Monte had a 14-7 lead and apparent control of the game, but three consecutive possessions ended in turnovers—the last one coming at the start of the third quarter and things were never quite the same.
With a minute 1:55 to play before the half Lions quarterback Brandon Martinez had a receiver break off a route and his pass was intercepted by Al Balderas and returned it 19-yards to the El Monte 31.
Two plays, two passes to Michael Patini, the second being a 4-yard touchdown pass, and the score was knotted at 14.
With seconds remaining Martinez went deep on the Lions next possession and was picked off by Patini.
El Monte’s struggles continued at the start of the third quarter when center Enrique Gonzalez’s snap sailed over Martinez’s head and was recovered by the Warriors Henry Duong at the EM 11.
Three plays down the road Ivan Vasquez went 6-yards to Michael Diaz and LP led 21-14.
“We have to play smarter football,” said El Monte HC Joel Sanchez. ” We can’t come out and make those mistakes.”
Also frustrating Sanchez was a facemask penalty that took the Warriors out of a punting situation in the game’s first drive and culminated with a 11-yard scoring pass from Brandon Vasquez to Patini.
“We talked about executing and we just didn’t execute,” said Sanchez.
Down 21-14, Martinez showed why folks are so high on him and El Monte in 2011 as he led his team on a 14-play 72-yard drive that ka-boomed with a quick 10-yard strike down the middle to Juan Ceballos. The drive was keyed by Memo Silva’s 12-yard catch on third and 10 as well two of Abel Barrajas’ eighth catches on the night.
The touchdown pass to Ceballos was similar in scheme and equal in distance to the go ahead score, that made it 14-7, he caught with 5:56 to play in the first half.
Now late in the third with score tied again, La Puente went on an 80-yard advance with the big play being Barrientos’ 43-yard blast through the Lions offense.
As the third quarter turned into the fourth, Martinez engineered another drive using the strong running of Bryan Luevano to carry the ball to the LP 18, but they stalled and turned the ball over on downs.
The Warriors trenchmen began grinding down the EM defense and clock
“Our offensive line played very well,” said La Puente HC Brandon Rohrer. “El Monte always has great sized but I think we started to wear them down in the second half.”
When the Lions defense did step up to force LP to punt on a fourth and 24, they ran into the kicker, drew the personal foul, and provided life for their opponent.
“You can’t do that,” said Sanchez. “And expect to win. This is very frustrating.”
Barrientos then finished this drive with a 41-yard scoring run to close the scoring.