The host Dons (6-2, 2-1) drove 90 yards to take a lead with 1:07 left only to see the Tigers (7-1, 3-0) pull out the dramatic victory on Barrera's game-winning kick.
It was a most entertaining game, and a great day for both offenses. The teams combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense, with nearly 800 of those yards coming through the air. There were seven lead changes, all in the second half. Two new school records were set by Livingston. And the host Dons put together one of the most amazing go-ahead drives of the season, converting a pair of fourth downs, only to see Riverside come away with the win.
The offenses, and Livingston in particular, were in excellent form from the very beginning of the game. The Riverside quarterback completed his first 10 passes of the afternoon and 17 of his first 18 with the only incomplete coming when he threw the ball away under pressure. But Santa Ana and quarterback Andrew McDonald kept pace, with McDonald finishing with 298 yards on the day and 2 touchdowns. And neither quarterback threw an interception.
Riverside took the game's opening kickoff and quickly drove down the field, taking a 7-0 lead when Livingston capped an 8-play drive with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Damian Robinson just 4:31 into the first quarter. But Santa Ana answered quickly, driving five plays and tying the game on a 4-yard run by McDonald with 8:36 left in the first quarter.
Riverside went back in front on Barrera's first field goal of the day, a 40-yarder that came shortly after Livingston's 43-yard pass to Stevie Will that got the ball to the Dons' 27. Then after a Santa Ana punt, Riverside increased its lead to 17-7 when Livingston threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Stip with 2:41 left in the quarter. Stip appeared to lose the ball just as he crossed the goal line, but the officials ruled it a touchdown (and teammate Ramon Buie recovered the ball in the end zone so it was a touchdown either way).
Santa Ana drew within three points at 17-14 when McDonald capped a 8-play drive with a 3-yard scoring pass to Jacob Smith in the first minute of the second quarter. After that, the defenses settled in, and neither team scored the rest of the half. Riverside drove to the Santa Ana 1 midway through the second quarter, but an excellent goal line stand by the Santa Ana defense that stopped three straight plays from the 1 or the 2 kept the score 17-14, and that's where things stood at halftime.
When the second half started, the offenses both regained control, and the result was a game that saw the lead go back and forth the entire second half. Santa Ana took the third quarter kickoff and went in front on a 28-yard touchdown pass from McDonald to Kevin O'Connell, only to see Riverside go back ahead when Livingston threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Stip less than a minute later. Then McDonald put Santa Ana back ahead with a 60-yard touchdown pass to Ario Winston that made it 28-24. But Riverside again answered, and Livingston threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Sadale Foster to put the Tigers back in front, 31-28, with 5:06 left in the third quarter.
Riverside got the ball back in the final minute of the third quarter when Justin Rayside recovered a fumble by McDonald at the Santa Ana 44. That led to a 32-yard field goal by Barrera that gave the Tigers a 34-28 lead with 12:25 left. Santa Ana then drove to the Riverside 17 on its next drive, but turned the ball over on downs after an unsuccessful fake field goal play. Then Riverside held the ball for more than four minutes before punting the ball away, giving the Dons possession at their own 10 yard line with 4:49 remaining.
Most other days, the drive Santa Ana put together would rank as not only the most important but also the most dramatic sequences of the game. McDonald led the Dons down the field, covering the 90 yards in 12 plays, and converting a pair of fourth down plays (with some help by a very generous spotting of the ball on one of those). McDonald's 13-yard pass to Smith converted a 4th and 5 from the Santa Ana 28, and his 1-yard run on a keeper from midfield got the Dons another first down. Two plays came a 27-yard pass to Parker Roberts to the Riverside 17. Then Eric Pesante broke free down the left sideline for a 17-yard touchdown run that pulled the Dons even with 1:07 left, and Chase Lansford kicked the extra point to give Santa Ana a 35-34 lead.
But 1:07 remained on the clock, which proved to be just enough time for Riverside. Sadale Foster took the kickoff and returned it 26 yards to the 35, and on offsides penalty on the Dons moved the ball to the 40. An 11-yard pass to Foster got the ball into Santa Ana territory, and two plays later a 9-yard pass to Joshua Walker got the Tigers to the 36. Then came an 8-yard pass to Stip and a 6-yard pass to Anthony Fuller.
With the ball at the 22 and 7.2 seconds left, Riverside called its final timeout, and on came Barrera to try the winning field goal. As the teams lined up at the line, Santa Ana called its final timeout in the obligatory attempt at icing the kicker. But on the restart, it was clear that strategy had no effect; Barrera's kick was straight down the middle and good by enough distance that it hit the netting behind the end zone as the RCC sideline celebrated.
But the game wasn't quite over yet. The clock had run out, but the officials (correctly) ruled that there were three seconds left and RCC would have to kick off. Barrera's kick went deep to Winston, who had no alternative but to get as far as he could and then look for a teammate to lateral the ball towards. Winston took the ball to around the 30, but as he turned to throw it, he was met by a pulverizing hit by Riverside's Lester White and went to the turf, ending the game.
There were a lot of gaudy offensive numbers in the game, but Livingston truly stood out, completing 33 of 46 passes for 463 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. His 33 completions and 463 yards are new RCC school records. Walker led all receivers with 7 catches, and Will led all receivers with 119 yards on 6 catches, and Stip had 6 catches for 92 yards. Andre Hunt led RCC with 74 yards rushing on 15 carries. Overall, Riverside had 550 yards of total offense and 29 first downs.
For Santa Ana, McDonald had a superb game with 28 completions from 36 attempts for 298 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Winston led SAC receivers with 5 catches for 113 yards. Pesante, subbing for regular starter Akeelie Mustafa (who missed the game on a personal matter), had a game-high 91 yards rushing on 16 carries, and scored what for just over a minute appeared to be a most dramatic game-winning touchdown.
With the win, Riverside improves to 7-1 overall and, more importantly, 3-0 and alone atop the Central Divison's East Conference. Santa Ana falls to 6-2 overall and 2-1 in conference.
Riverside Tigers 37
Santa Ana Dons 35
Saturday, October 30, 2010 - 1 pm @ Eddie West Field, Santa Ana Stadium
Central Division - East Conference
R - D.Robinson 26 yd pass from Livingston (Barrera kick) 10:29 (7-0)
SA - McDonald 4 yd run (Lansford kick) 8:36 (7-7)
R - FG Barrera 40 yds 5:55 (10-7)
R - Stip 11 yd pass from Livingston (Barrera kick) 2:41 (17-7)
SA - Smith 3 yd pass from McDonald (Lansford kick) 14:07 (17-14)
SA - O'Connell 28 yd pass from McDonald (Lansford kick) 11:49 (17-21)
R - Stip 41 yd pass from Livingston (Barrera kick) 10:50 (24-21)
SA - Winston 60 yd pass from McDonald (Lansford kick) 6:34 (24-28)
R - Foster 27 yd pass from Livingston (Barrera kick) 5:06 (31-28)
R - FG Barrera 32 yds 12:25 (34-28)
SA - Pesante 17 yd run (Lansford kick) 1:07 (34-35)
R - FG Barrera 39 yds 0:03 (37-35)
First Downs: Santa Ana 23 (11 rush, 9 pass, 3 penalty), Riverside 29 (5 rush, 22 pass, 2 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Santa Ana 33-165, Riverside 30-87
Passing Yds: Santa Ana 298, Riverside 463
Comp-Att-Int: Santa Ana 28-38-0, Riverside 33-48-0
Return Yds: Santa Ana 126, Riverside 156
Sacks-Yds: Santa Ana 3-11, Riverside 1-9
Fumbles-Lost: Santa Ana 3-1, Riverside 2-1
Penalties-Yds: Santa Ana 5-55, Riverside 9-68
Time of Possession: Santa Ana 28:03, Riverside 31:57
Rushing: SA 24-Pesante 16-91, 9-McDonald 12-45, 22-Liti 2-21, 29-Dunn 3-8; R 25-Hunt 15-74, 13-Furrha 4-22, 3-D.Robinson 2-6, 27-Jackson 2-5, 26-Foster 1-(-2), 2-Livingston 6-(-18)
Passing: SA 9-McDonald 28-36-0-298, 3 TDs; 1-Guastella 0-1-0-0; 14-Navarro 0-1-0-0; R 2-Livingston 33-46-0-463, 4 TDs; 8-Stip 0-1-0-0; team 0-1-0-0
Receiving: SA 4-Winston 5-113, 6-Roberts 5-54, 81-Smith 4-29, 1-Guastella 4-15, 8-O'Connell 2-36, 11-Jones 2-18, 5-Martin 2-10, 24-Pesante 2-(-4), 22-Liti 1-15, 87-Cheatham 1-12; R 17-Waller 7-69, 83-Will 6-119, 8-Stip 6-92, 26-Foster 3-65, 81-Fuller 3-34, 25-Hunt 2-17, 6-Buie 2-0, 3-D.Robinson 1-26, 84-Mays 1-20,4-Greenwalt 1-18, 86-Anderson 1-3
Interceptions-Ret Yds: none
Fum Rec-Ret Yds: SA 2-Berry 1-0; R 95-Rayside 1-0
Sacks: SA 41-Kongaika, 91-Rodriguez, 5-Henley ½, 7-Takapu ½; R 39-Z.Anderson ½, 97-Mayfield ½
Punters: SA 19-Lansford 4-46.5 avg; R 85-Alvarez 4-42.0 avg
Kick Returns: SA 11-Jones 4-34, 1-Guastella 3-52, 4-Winston 1-18; R 26-Forster 6-142, 3-D.Robinson 0-6
Punt Returns: SA 1-Guastella 1-18; R 26-Foster 1-8
Missed FG: none
Notes: Showdown! Both teams entered 6-1, 2-0 in the Central-East. SA was ranked #5 in the South and #15 in the nation (JCGW); RCC was ranked #9 in the South and tied for #25 in the nation. And what a game it was!!! SA drove 90 yds and converted two 4th downs to take the lead, only to see RCC answer with the game-winning FG. Livingston started the day with 10 straight completions and completed 17 of his first 18 passes; his completion and yardage totals are new RCC records. SA had some double numbers so one has to look at both names and numbers in this summary.