(Citrus College)- Andrew Espinoza scored from eight yards out with 2:00 left in the fourth quarter and Erick Ware calmly booted home the extra point to give San Dimas a remarkable 37-36 win over Bonita Thursday night to capture the Smudgepot. The Bearcats had one last gasp but a 49 yard field goal attempt by Brandt Davis fell short.
Espinoza’s winning touchdown run was set up by a Reggie Turner fumble that landed San Dimas at the Bonita ten yard line. Turner after rushing for 116 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown, left the game with 34 seconds left in the third quarter with cramps. But he returned to the field and on his first carry he coughed it up, Austin Hill came out of the pile with it and San Dimas was in the driver’s seat.
Three plays later Espinoza was in the end zone.
It was all Saints in the first two plus quarters as Jake Payton led a run fueled offense that powered San Dimas to a 30-8 advantage with 6:20 left in the first half.
Payton had a huge night rushing for 157 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries. In the first quarter he scored on runs of eight two yards and added together with a safety off of a bad snap on a punt attempt by Bonita gave the Saints a 16-0 lead after one.
Payton opened the second quarter with a 30 yard touchdown jaunt and suddenly it was 23-0 and things looked glum for the green and white Bearcats.
Turner started to get into the offensive act for Bonita and finished off a second quarter drive with a 15 yard TD run to get the Cats on the board. But you began to get the feeling Bonita couldn’t stop San Dimas with a taser gun as the Saints immediately responded with a seven play, 80 yard drive capped by a 14 yard run by Denzell Mitchell to go up 30-8. But somehow, some way Bonita inexplicably bounced back.
They Bearcats ran off 28 consecutive points to grab a 36-30 lead that looked like it would hold up until the turnover bug bit them late in the fourth quarter.
Victor Magallanes hauled in a 42 yard touchdown pass from Tanner Diebold mid way though the second quarter. Turner turned a Diebold screen pass into an eight yard touchdown just before halftime to cut the lead to 30-22 at the break.
San Dimas’ offense was stopped on it first four possessions in the second half and now it was Bonita who had all the momentum.
Diebold hit Magallanes again for a 16 yard score and when Angel Verdugo punched it in from three yards out and A.J. Greco followed with a run for the two point conversion, Bonita was up six early in the fourth.
San Dimas appeared to be on the verge of regaining the advantage with 3:14 left but Payton was stonewalled at the Bonita ten yard line on a fourth and one.
Hill’s fumble recovery then paved the way for Espinoza’s game winner.
“We have a lot of kids that have been here before. They didn’t panic.” said San Dimas Coach Bill Zernickow. “We have been through a lot of wars together.”
There could have been a number of heroes for Bonita. Magallanes had six catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns and Diebold threw for 179 yards and three scores. Turner was nearly the Bearcats entire ground game before leaving with the injury and then returning.
The San Dimas rushing attack which was expected to be dominant lived up to the hype. The Saints totaled over 230 yards on the ground.
It very well could have been Bonita hoisting the coveted Smudgepot trophy when the clock hit zeroes but on this night it was the boys from San Dimas.
“Hey we made one less mistake than they did. That’s all it was,” Zernickow said.
SD 16 14 0 7 37
B 0 22 6 8 36