Sequoias edges Reedley in the Valley

Things became a little clearer in the tough Valley Conference Saturday, as the COS Giants held on in a tight thriller at Mineral King Bowl Stadium. Pictured - Sequoias DL John Wood.

This game was a back and forth affair where big plays and mistakes highlighted a spirited contest. It went down to the wire, but in the end,  Giants DL John Wood (PHOTO) blew through the line on 4th down, and dropped Tigers QB Drew Branch for a loss to close out a 33-31 victory. The victory snaps a 7 game losing streak to the Tigers, who have been the dominate force in the Valley Conference throughout this decade.

1st Half

First blood was drawn after an illegal participation by COS on a Reedley punt gave the Tigers great field position at the Giant 28. On the next play, Jose Garcia took bounced of COS defenders like a pinball all the way to paydirt and a Tiger lead of 7-0. After a shaky start including a bobbled snap and a penalty, Giant QB Andre Sloan El hit Michael Benson on a slant for 54 yards to the Reedley 31 yard line. After Sloan El scrambled on a 13 yard run, Ron Brazil knotted the game at 7-7 with a 3 yard burst up the gut.

Derron Hall quickly answered the Giant drive with a great kickoff return, weaving in and out before rambling down the left sideline 88 yards to the house. But a block in the back took the score away and put the Tigers on the Giant 16 yard line instead. Serge Elizee came through to sack Branch for a loss on third and three, and the Tigers usually accurate kicker Danny Urrego missed a field goal attempt to end the drive. However, a Sloan El pass was immediately picked off by Maurice Harvey, who used his 6'3 frame to go up and get it, and return it all the way to the Giant 9 yard line. Garcia punched it in from 6 yards out to give Reedley a 14-7 lead.

Indecision by the Giant return man on the ensuing kickoff ended up as a fumble, and the Tigers Tommie Williams pounced on the ball at the Giant 4 yard line.  RB Joshua Lewis pounded it home from there, and it looked like the Tigers were going to roll in this game, up 21-7 in the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, the Giants got a break when a high snap sailed over punter Urrego's head, and he was called for grounding the ball when he picked the ball up and threw it away. With a first and goal at the nine, Sloan El carried out a beautiful play action pass and hit A.J. Jackson in the endzone to bring the Giants closer at 21-14.  Another shanked field goal attempt by Urrego was redeemed by offsides on the Giants to give them a first down on the Giant 20. But then big DL John Wood snatched a pass out of the air near the line of scrimmage and rambled down the field, ultimately lateralling the ball to teammate George Kearse before the Tigers could corral him at the Tiger 33.  Sloan El hit Michael Benson for six, and the game was tied at 21-21.

Reedley quickly drove the ball down to the 15 yard line, but made what would turn out to be a game costing mental error when on 2nd down, they had a chance to spike the ball and stop the clock for a field goal attempt, but lined up for the kick instead and time ran out on them.

2nd Half

The Tigers once again struck first on a 47 yard field goal by Urrego to take a 24-21 lead.  But Daniel Johnson's electrifying 90 yard return of the ensuing kickoff gave the Giants back the momentum and the lead at 28-24.   Branch brought the Tigers roaring back with his passing, and finally hit Corey Griffin on a slant to take that lead back at 31-28.

On a third and ten, a pass interference bailed out the Giants and they retained the ball inside of Reedley territory. Sloan El then showed his escapability on a broken down pass play and scrambled to the 38 yard line behind some bone jarring crack back blocking by his teammates. COS ended up having to punt, and they pinned the Tigers back to their own two yard line. Branch tried to drop back for a pass, and was quickly overcome by the Giant rush, and he ended up grounding the ball while in his own endzone, resulting in a safety and a score of 31-30.

Two dropped passes and an illegal procedure stopped a Giant drive, and both defenses started playing with more ferocity. Frankie Gonzales  ended up kicking a 27 yard field goal to give the Giants a big 33-31 lead, setting up the big game winning sack of Branch by Wood.

Summary

Great game by two of the top ten teams in the state. Year after year Reedley Coach Michael White has fielded talented, hard hitting teams. But there's a new contender a mere 20 minutes away. Curtis Allen has put together a great staff including former NFL star Irv Pankey, and highly respected Offensive Coordinator Andy Siegal. Both teams are getting a steady stream of talent. Defensive Back Woodny Turenne is arguably the best player in the Junior College ranks. Every D-1 team is clamoring for his services, and he is expected to be an NFL player. The Ft. Lauderdale native is a lockdown Corner with tremendous speed having won the California Junior College 100 yard dash championship. Both QBs were impressive, Sloan El ended up passing for 230 yards, but the real hero today was John Wood, whose interception and sack were huge for Sequoias.

This is not the end of playoff hopes for the Tigers. COS has to travel to always tough Fresno next week and this game should also be a barnburner. If Fresno can knock off the Giants, and Reedley knocks off Fresno, you could see a three way tie whereby the Tigers get in via a better overall record than the Giants, and a head to head win against Fresno. Stay tuned!

 


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