By Tim Peterson
(San Gabriel) – San Gabriel outscored Kennedy (Granada Hills) 32-13 in the second half to overcome a seven-point deficit and went to win 46-34 Saturday night to advance to the Division 6-A State championship.
The Matadors were down 21-14 at halftime before exploding in the third quarter for 24 points including touchdowns on their first two possessions. On the first play of the third quarter Jacob Muniz hit Nathan Daum-Smith for a 65-yard touchdown. Elijah Muniz ran in the two-point conversion and just like that it was 22-21 San Gabriel.
The Mats then stopped Kennedy on fourth down and they were in business again at their own 41. They drove 59 yards on six plays with Jacob Muniz keeping it and scoring from five yards out. Robert Lucero ran in the two-point conversion and with 5:21 left in the third the Matadors were up by nine 30-21.
Kennedy countered with a 50-yard drive of its own as Alonzo Fuentes hit Isaiah Rojas with a 21-yard touchdown pass. The extra point made it 30-28.
But San Gabriel wasn’t done in the third quarter. This time the Matadors drove 65 yards on seven plays with Elijah Muniz pounding it in for a five-yard score. Preston Ortega ran in the two-point attempt and the Mats had 24 points in the third quarter and a 38-28 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
San Gabriel finished it off with 4:07 left in the fourth quarter when Jacob Muniz pulled it down and scored on a five-yard run. Again the Mats converted the two points as Ortega ran it in to make it 46-28. Game. Set. Match.
The Cougars added a late score as Fuentes was on the receiving end of a 49-yard touchdown pass from Diego Montes with 3:30 left.
The Matadors then were able to run out the clock.
“They (Kennedy) did a great job. Respect to them. They gave us some trouble. But we made some adjustments. We run it every day and we’ve seen every front,” said San Gabriel Coach Kevin Encinas. “So when we figured out what the problem was we made our adjustments and man we hit big. The kids are so coachable. They’re just ready for what’s next. I’m just so proud of our kids.”
Kennedy was able to forge the lead in the first half on two short touchdown runs by Gabriel Argott and a 12-yard TD jaunt by Fuentes. Lucero scored twice in the first half for San Gabriel on a six-yard run in the first quarter and on a nine-yard pass from Jacob Muniz.
Then the Mats were off and running in the third quarter. Lucero ran for 160 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and also had two catches for 17 yards and a score. Jacob Muniz threw for 114 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 32 yards and a pair of scores on seven carries. Daum-Smith had two receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Gabriel Argott was the workhorse for Kennedy rushing for 163 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries. Kennedy finished the season 9-6 overall.
San Gabriel improved to 11-3 overall and will compete for the State Championship next weekend in Atascadero.