By Ron Vrooman
(Riverside) – The Ramona Rams defeated the Alhambra Moors, 28-24, in a CIF Division 13 semifinal game played at Ramona High last Friday night.
The Rams, who improved their record to 11-2, will host 8-4 Esperanza High in the championship final on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The Moors’ loss to Ramona dashed their hopes for a division title and ended their winning streak at a school-record 13 games. Alhambra’s last previous loss was to Bell
Gardens in October, 2018.
Ramona jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter but had to hold on for the win. AHS got back into the game with a 17-point outburst in the second quarter which closed the gap to 21-17 at halftime.
Unfortunately for the Moors, two second-half turnovers thwarted their bid for a comeback victory and a trip to the championship game. Late in the third quarter, Alhambra drove 64 yards to the Ramona one-yard line and was poised to take the lead for the first time.
But, Damien Rosa, who was quarterbacking for the Moors in that short-yardage situation, fumbled the snap from center on 4th-and-goal and the Rams recovered at their own two.
Then, with the Rams still ahead, 21-17, almost halfway through the final quarter, starting quarterback Noah Rodriguez threw a pass that was deflected by a Ramona defender and returned 26 yards for a touchdown by linebacker Donte Roby.
Suddenly trailing, 28-17, the Moors rallied back on their next possession. On a 4th-and-11 play, Rodriguez threw a 45-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Vito Russell. Matthew Donko’s point-after then narrowed the Rams’ lead to 28-24 with 4:25 left.
The Moors decided to kick the ball deep to Ramona on the ensuing kickoff, hoping that a stop by their defense would give them one more chance to come from behind. However, the Rams converted two first downs to run out the clock and secure the victory.
Ramona quarterback Diego Muniz completed 15 of 29 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. His leading receiver was David Cornejo, who made nine catches for 132 yards and a score.
Roby, who is also the Rams’ tailback, rushed 22 times for 76 yards and a TD.
For Alhambra, Rodriguez connected on 23 of 53 passes for 297 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he was intercepted twice. The Moors’ sophomore QB also carried the ball 10 times for 95 yards.
Russell, a senior, caught 15 passes from Rodriguez—including both touchdown throws—for a career-high 212 yards in his final game for AHS.
Senior slot receiver Kody Chuang, who missed the Moors’ quarterfinal game against Calvary Chapel because of an ankle injury, managed to haul in four passes for 60 yards. Alhambra had 422 yards in total offense, to 393 yards for the victorious Rams.
The Moors’ 12-1 finish is the fifth-best in their 107-year football history, surpassed only by undefeated seasons in 1928, ’39, ’43, and ’46.
In addition, Coach Eric Bergstrom’s team tied the 1946 squad for the most victories in a season. (That ’46 team. which was coached by George Hobbs, went 12-0 and won a CIF title.)
Last Friday night’s game also marked Alhambra’s first appearance in the CIF semifinals since 1978, when the Moors lost to Arcadia, 13-6.