Chaffey (4-3, 2-1) got two touchdowns from powerful running back Cecil Fleming, a touchdown pass from Levi Plante to Michael Robert and a field goal from Rigoberto Luna to take a 24-23 lead with 1:04 left on the clock. Then Jared Emanuele capped the comeback with a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown as time ran out to complete the 7-point victory for the Panthers.
All of that seemed most unlikely after a first half that was dominated by Citrus (3-5, 2-2). Quarterback Larry Cutbirth threw for one touchdown and ran for another, Ryosuke Machida kicked two field goals and Marquice O'Leary intercepted three Plante passes as the Owls took a seemingly-commanding 20-0 halftime lead.
But Chaffey took the second half kickoff and drove 65 yards in 9 plays to get in the game, with Fleming scoring from 2 yards out to make it 20-7. Later in the third quarter Fleming capped a 7-play drive that included a 42-yard pass from Plante to Alec Dana to cut the deficit to 20-14.
Citrus got a third field goal from Machida - from 37 yards out against a stiff wind - to restore its two-score lead early in the fourth quarter. But Chaffey answered with an 80-yard drive, with Plante hitting Robert from 12 yards out to cut the margin to 23-21 with 8:06 left. Citrus drove to the Chaffey 27 where it faced a fourth-and-11. After Machida's last field goal, which barely cleared the crossbar, the Owls elected to go for the first down but came up a yard short, turning the ball over to Chaffey with 4:11 left.
Just over a minute later, Chaffey faced a 3rd and 11 from its own 26 when Plante hit Marquis Wimberly for a short gain. But in what turned out to be the key play of the game, Wimberly broke free from a would-be tackler and turned a short gain into a 63-yard play that got the Panthers into field goal range at the Owls' 11 yard-line.
It wasn't quite that easy for Chaffey, however, as a bad snap resulted in a 13-yard loss and then a 5-yard penalty pushed the Panthers back to the 29. But Plante threw an 11-yard pass to Robert and an 8-yard pass to Dana to get the ball back to the 10, and Luna booted the go-ahead field goal from 27 yards out with 1:04 left, giving Chaffey its first lead of the game.
Citrus still had a chance to answer, and Cutbirth threw a 7-yard pass to Romney and a 22-yard pass to Martin to get the ball to the Citrus 43. But both plays ended in the middle of the field, and the clock ran down below 20 seconds. And on the next play, Cutbirth's pass over the middle landed in the hands of Emanuele, who carried it 56 yards into the left corner of the end zone as time ran out to clinch the Chaffey victory.
For Chaffey, Plante completed 15 of 24 passes for 231 yards and a touchdown. More impressively, he was 8 for 11 for 178 yards in the second half after suffering 3 interceptions in the first half. He also rushed for 50 yards on 7 carries. Between Plante, Ricky Morland (10 carries, 58 yards), Tyler Telphy (8 carries, 52 yards) and Fleming the Panthers rushed for 180 yards on the day. Dana had 5 catches for 66 yards and Wimberly had 4 catches for 114 yards to lead Chaffey receivers. Mataele Kauvaka had 2.5 sacks and Grant Coonce had 2 to lead the defense, and of course Emanuele had the game-clinching pick-six.
For Citrus, Cutbirth completed 26 of 41 passes for 362 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also scored on a 4-yard run in the first half. Emmanuel Pooler had 60 yards on 16 carries to lead all rushers. Romney had 7 catches for 94 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown catch with 3 seconds left in the first half that pushed Citrus' lead to 20-0. And on defense O'Leary was the standout with his 3 first-half interceptions.
Chaffey Panthers 30
Citrus Owls 23
Saturday, October 25, 2014 - 1 pm - Citrus College Stadium, Glendora
National Division - Central Conference
Citrus - FG Machida 30 yds 11:55 (0-3)
Citrus - FG Machida 28 yds 4:09 (0-6)
Citrus - Cutbirth 4 yd run (Machida kick) 7:23 (0-13)
Citrus - Romney 44 yd pass from Cutbirth (Machida kick) 0:03 (0-20)
Chaffey - Fleming 2 yd run (Luna kick) 10:44 (7-20)
Chaffey - Fleming 9 yd run (Luna kick) 1:55 (14-20)
Citrus - FG Machida 37 yds 11:51 (14-23)
Chaffey - Robert 12 yd pass from Plante (Luna kick) 8:06 (21-23)
Chaffey - FG Luna 27 yds 1:04 (24-23)
Chaffey - Emanuele 56 yd interception return (no conversion try) 0:00 (30-23)
First Downs: Citrus 25 (8 rush, 16 pass, 1 penalty), Chaffey 21 (10 rush, 7 pass, 4 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Citrus 39-105, Chaffey 43-180
Passing Yds: Citrus 362, Chaffey 231
Comp-Att-Int: Citrus 26-41-1, Chaffey 15-24-3
Return Yds: Citrus 157, Chaffey 78
Sacks-Yds: Citrus 1-1, Chaffey 6-24
Fumbles-Lost: Citrus 1-1, Chaffey 3-0
Penalties-Yds: Citrus 12-103, Chaffey 9-61
Time of Possession: Citrus 30:02, Chaffey 29:58
Rushing: Citrus 21-Pooler 16-60, 25-Gonzales 3-25, 23-Gordon 1-14, 6-Cutbirth 19-6; Chaffey 20-Moland 10-58, 5-Telphy 8-52, 10-Plante 7-50, 9-Fleming 11-21, 23-Hampton 5-15, 6-Robert 1-(-3), team 1-(-13)
Passing: Citrus 6-Cutbirth 26-41-1-362, 1 TD; Chaffey 15-24-3-231, 1 TD
Receiving: Citrus 4-Romney 7-94, 1-P.Smith 5-67, 5-Martin 4-80, 86-Beltran 3-57, 13-D.Smith 3-51, 23-Gordon 2-7, 21-Pooler 2-6; Chaffey 8-Dana 5-66, 1-Wimberly 4-114, 6-Robert 3-29, 19-Farha 1-11, 81-Carter 1-10, 9-Fleming 1-1
Interceptions-Ret Yds: Citrus 32-O'Leary 3-17; Chaffey 32-Emanuele 1-56
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: Citrus none; Chaffey 58-Velasco 1-0
Sacks: Citrus 40-Harmon; Chaffey 90-Kauvaka 2½, 44-Coonce 2, 91-Robinson, 42-Savusa ½
Punters: Citrus 88-Barnes 1-40; Chaffey 29-Luna 2-38.5 avg
Kick Returns: Citrus 1-P.Smith 3-70, 5-Martin 2-56; Chaffey 23-Hampton 1-17, 6-Robert 1-3, 7-Boyd 1-2
Punt Returns: Citrus 5-Martin 2-14; Chaffey none
Missed FG: none
Notes: Chaffey entered ranked #9 in National Division and improves to 4-3, 2-1 in conference; Citrus entered tied for #11 in National Division and falls to 3-5, 2-2. Boyd forced the fumble that Velasco recovered for Chaffey. The key play of the game was when Wimberly broke a tackle and turned a short gain into a 63-yd pass play to set up the go-ahead FG. Citrus got the ball back but Emanuele intercepted Cutbirth's final pass of the game and scored as time ran out. Citrus still holds a 22-20-2 lead in the all-time series.