By Joe Torosian
(Temple City)—Justin Bowman’s 10-yard run to paydirt with 17 seconds left iced Temple City’s 21-7 win over Pasadena Poly on Friday night at North Field. It also gave new Rams HC, Riley Saxon a victory in his sideline debut.
“These kids they fought hard…They’ve had to deal with a 3-7 season, a 2-8 season, 2-8 season, and it would have been very easy for them to say, here we go again after they tied it in the first half but they didn’t,” said Saxon.
With 4:21 to play in the game Temple City, following a poor punt, took over at its own 45. Leading 14-7 and looking for its first opening night victory since 2008, attempted to ground it out.
#45 carried the ball for 3-yards and then again for a yard, and the team found itself in a third and six situation at the 49. Recognizing the tough sledding up the middle, unable to go wide, Saxon went with another option—a halfback option. Samuel Jackimowicz took a pitch and went right on a play that looked doomed. Jackimowicz adjusted the ball with the defense closing and launched downfield.
Receiver Daniel Centeno, in single coverage, appeared to curve around his defender and catch the ball while he was sliding to the ground for a 26-yard gain.
“I had it in our back pocket because we ran it the first time on a third and long and fumbled the snap. But we saw it, and it looked open so we said, hey we could run it again. They covered it well, but Daniel Centeno made the play,” said Saxon.
Two plays later Bowman went 14-yards to the Poly seven. As the clock continued to wind down in the official’s hand—the scoreboard died on the table early in the second quarter—TC lost yardage on successive plays in an effort to eat clock and control the ball.
Finally on third down, with 17 seconds left, Bowman turned the left corner (on the El Camino Real side of the stadium), took a hit to the knee, and launched into the end zone to secure the win.
In a physical contest from the start, Temple City scored on its second possession using five plays and a pass interference call to set up Bowman for a 2-yard touchdown run.
In the second quarter, the Panthers on a fourth and nine from the TC 14 tied the contest when quarterback Graham Olson dropped back and then tucked the ball and dashed to the end zone.
Less than two minutes later the Rams responded when Bowman went 53-yards down the sideline to Isaiah Cassillas, and it was a 14-7 contest.
From there, with the stadium scoreboard out of commission, the game turned into a defensive struggle with neither team scoring in the third quarter.
Poly’s first drive of the second half ended with a punt. Its second drive started at the 50, lasted over five minutes and ended on a turnover on downs at the Rams 15. Their third possession started at the TC 38 and three plays later, facing a fourth and 15, they punted. The punt was shanked, netted zero yards, and the Rams took over at their own 45 with 4:21 to play.
“Our offense definitely needs to pick it up because our defense bailed us out time and time again. You’ve gotta give credit to the coaches for getting those guys fired up. They took what we preached to them and they executed it perfectly,” said Saxon. “Our defense was awesome tonight.”
The victory was not only Temple City’s first since defeating Arroyo, 34-0 in the 2008 season opener, it was also the first time since 2009 they held a first week opponent to less than 27-points. (27 to Arroyo in 2009 & La Salle in 2012.) They allowed 35 to Arroyo in 2015 but defensively had surrendered 42, 48, 55, 42 and 42 in other season openers.
“I’m going to tell them in the locker room that I’m proud of them, excited, but we’ve got Arroyo in five days. So we gotta get ready.”