By Tim Peterson
(Covina) – Nin Burns II hit Matt Mannino on a 21-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone with 20 seconds left to secure a 57-50 Covina win over Monrovia on a wild Thursday night at Covina District Field.
Burns’ TD strike gave the Colts a 55-50 lead and he then caught a pass from Mannino for two point conversion on a trick play to account for the final tally.
Although that proved to be the game winner nobody in the house was sure of it at the time. The Covina District Field crowd had seen everything so far and defense wasn’t one of them. Monrovia had the ball one more time and the way things were playing out on this night the Cats possibly had one more in them. However after a pass had moved the ball down to the Colt 40-yard line, Monrovia quarterback Nick Hernandez’ last desperation pass towards the end zone was batted down and only then, when the clock hit zeroes, was it clear that this event was over. And what an event it was.
There were 10 lead changes overall and it appeared that the team with the ball last would win. Monrovia scored first and had the ball last but simply ran out of time.
There were big plays throughout the night. Maury Rams IV scored on a reception of 61 yards and a run of 48 for Monrovia. Frank Hernandez also hauled in a 58-yard touchdown pass from Nick Hernandez for the Cats. Covina running back Erik Cuellar hit paydirt on a 69-yard jaunt for the Colts.
Cuellar, who had five touchdowns on the night for Covina, scored on runs of 19 and 10 yards in the first half and along with a 13-yard TD strike from Burns to Mannino gave the Colts a 22-7 lead early in the second. But Monrovia countered with Rams’ 61-yard touchdown reception, and a one-yard Rams plunge to cap an early drive for a 28-22 halftime advantage. Rams also scored on a three -yard run and Frank Hernandez grabbed 10-yard touchdown strike. The two teams had only just begun.
In the second half it amounted to who could throw the hardest punch. The Wildcats threw roundhouse blows with a 48-yard touchdown run by Rams and a Frank Hernandez’ 58-yard catch and carry but the Colts answered with a few haymakers of their own on two Cuellar runs of 69 and five yards and an eight yard Mannino sprint.
42-41 Monrovia after three.
Cuellar scored again early in the fourth to finish a drive with a one-yard run and a Burns pass to Martin Keely for two made it 49-42 with 6:30 left. Monrovia answered on just 4 plays with Devon Mayes scoring from a yard out and Hernandez to Hernandez on the two point conversion to make it 50-49. The problem for the Wildcat faithful was that they scored too early. There was still 4:31 left on the clock.
The Colts marched down the field and Burns hit Mannino with what proved to be the game winner with 20 seconds left.
Burns threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns for Covina while Cuellar piled up 223 yards on the ground with five scores.
For Monrovia Rams rushed for 128 and three scores and hauled in two passes for 64 yards and a touchdown. Frank Hernandez caught six passes for 105 yards and two scores and Nick Hernandez had 247 yards passing and three touchdowns.
Add it all up and it tallied 107 points total with Covina scoring 57 of them including the decisive last eight.
Covina improved to 3-1 with the victory while Monrovia fell to 1-4 on a night that will go down in Monrovia and Covina history.
M 7 21 14 8 50
C 15 7 19 16 57