By Alex Gonzalez
(Pico Rivera) — With 42 seconds left to play in regulation, Santa Fe defensive back Sergio Medrano picked off Jacob Rodriguez’ pass on the 5-yard line to seal the 30-27 win Friday night at El Rancho High School.
Following intermission, the Dons and Chiefs were knotted at 14. El Rancho struck first to start the game when Marcos Weeks capped off a six-play drive when he took the direct snap and bulldozed his way into the end zone.
Santa Fe was able to return the favor on the following possession when Alan Jackson punched his ticket for six with 3:18 left in the first quarter. After an El Rancho punt, the Chiefs went to the passing game led by Christian Tolar who completed 4 of his 5 pass attempts in the drive. Once Santa Fe was within striking distance, Tolar handed the ball off to Javier Valdivia on the fly sweep for the 5-yard touchdown run.
Just before the teams went into the locker room for halftime, El Rancho went back to its running game with Weeks and Daniel Lopez who helped tie the game at 14 with a 14-play drive that ended with Lopez walking into the end zone with 43 seconds left in the second frame.
After the break, both teams continued to score with ease. With Santa Fe starting the half with the ball, they went no huddle and had Tolar do all the work. After a 40-yard completion that brought the Chiefs to the five-yard line, Tolar took it himself and scored on the quarterback sneak.
The Dons punched right back on the ensuing possession. With the combination of Weeks and Lopez, the two carried the load for El Rancho with Weeks ending the 11-play drive with an 18-yard touchdown run. However, after the score, El Rancho couldn’t convert on the PAT and trailed the Chiefs 21-20 midway through the third.
Early in the fourth quarter, Santa Fe started to pull away after the offense needed two plays to score the team’s fourth touchdown of the night. Starting on the El Rancho 45, Jackson started the drive with a 37-yard run. On next play, he took the handoff again and scored from 8-yards out.
Then the El Rancho special teams gave two more points to the Chiefs when the snap sailed over Steve Acuña’s head and into the back of the end zone for a safety.
With the score at 30-20 late in the fourth, Rodriguez found Jonathan Hernandez running the wheel route who took it the distance for the 55-yard touchdown. After the made PAT, the lead was down to three with 3:07 left to play.
With a lucky bounce, the Dons were able to recover an onside kick at the Santa Fe 47. Rodriguez was able to gain positive yards pushing the Chiefs defense back. But, with 42 seconds left, Medrano picked off Rodriguez’ pass at the 5-yard line closing the door on a Don comeback.