Citrus led most of the way, but victory wasn't assured until the final minutes against a scrappy Southwest squad.
Citrus seemed to be in control of the game, building a 22-7 lead late in the second quarter and a 29-14 lead in the third quarter, but had trouble finally putting the pesky Cougars completely away. A bizarre deflection-interception-fumble-touchdown play helped Southwest get within 8 points early in the fourth quarter, and a field goal with just over three minutes again made it an 8-point game. Only when Citrus gained three first downs in the final few minutes was the Owls' and Ponciano's first win secure.
Citrus took a 6-0 lead on its first drive of the game, capping an 8-play, 89-yard drive with a 10-yard scoring run by Brandon Stansell. And Citrus pushed the lead to 14-0 in the second quarter when Andrew Romero did a magnificent job of picking things up for his teammate Tyra Wells, who had dropped a sure touchdown pass on the previous play, hauling in a 29-yard scoring pass from Ingram to make it 12-0. Then 280-pound defensive lineman-turned-fullback Andrew Fakatoka plowed through the line for a 2-point conversion to make it 14-0. Citrus seemed in full control of things, particularly after the Owl defense forced another punt, giving Citrus the ball at its 38.
Southwest got back in the game quickly when Anthony Bailey intercepted an Ingram pass and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown just three plays later to make it 14-7. And on its next drive, Citrus went three-and-out, punting the ball to LA Southwest with 4:38 left in the second quarter.
However, mistakes hurt Southwest on its next possession. First, a fumble by Gregory Norwood resulted in a 7-yard loss on 3rd down and forced a Cougar punt. Then, on the punt play, the snap went high over the punter's head and out of the end zone for a safety to make it 16-7. Then, on the free kick, the kick was short and the return by Travis Kamoski got the ball to the Southwest 38. Four plays later, Ingram scored on a 1-yard keeper to make it 22-7 with 2:02 left in the half.
But Southwest fought back, starting with a 21-yard return of the ensuing kickoff by Lee Stewart that gave the Cougars the ball at the Owl 41. That sparked a quick, 5-play drive that ended with a 6-yard pass from Marcell DeJean to Jerome Wooten with 25 seconds left before halftime that cut the Citrus lead to a single score at 22-14.
Citrus scored the only points of the third quarter when linebacker Nicholas Barbone came on as a fullback to cap a 15-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge with 3:02 left in the quarter. The drive covered 89 yards and took 5:30 off the clock, and seemed to put Citrus back in control with a 15-point lead at 29-14.
But then a bizarre play got Southwest back into the game. The Cougars were driving, having reached the Citrus 15, when DeJean threw a pass over the middle that deflected off an unsuspecting Robbie Skarseth and into the hands of Namari Flentroy in the end zone for an interception. It seemed the play was over at that point, but the whistle never blew, as apparently Flentroy was never tackled or took a knee. Then suddenly, Southwest's Hajee Shaw had the ball, and the officials signaled a touchdown for the Cougars. How all that happened wasn't really clear, but when it was all sorted out Southwest was back within 8 points at 29-21 with 14:17 left on the clock.
Citrus restored its two-score lead on a 35-yard field goal by Eric De Lira with 8:26 left to cap another long drive that chewed up nearly six minutes off the clock. And the Owls appeared to finally take control of the game moments later when Southwest, facing a 4th and 2 at the Citrus 31, saw DeJean's pass attempt fall incomplete, giving Citrus the ball back with 6:18 remaining and a 15-point lead.
But it wasn't over quite yet. On the next play, Ingram tried a long pass, and Southwest's Terrance Conway made the interception at the Cougar 48. The Cougars then drove - helped immensely by three defensive penalties against Citrus - to the Owl 2 yard line. The drive stalled there, but Luis DeLeon came on and kicked a 22-yard field goal to once again make it a one-score game at 32-24.
More than three minutes remained on the clock, so Southwest elected to kick the ball deep on the ensuing kickoff. But that strategy ended up failing badly as Citrus never gave the ball back. An encroachment penalty on Southwest gave the Owls one first down, and then a 10-yard run by Isaac Tucker got the Owls another. Then another first down run by Tucker, this one for 12 yards, finally clinched the win for Citrus.
For Citrus, Ingram finished 25 for 43 passing for his 320 yards, and he had one touchdown and one interception . He also rushed for one score. Tucker led all rushers with 63 yards on 15 carries. And Damon Baca led all receivers with 6 catches for 94 yards to lead the Owls.
For Southwest, DeJean completed 15 of 31 passes for 110 yards, one touchdown and one interception. But the Cougar ground game managed just 33 yards on 21 attempts, led by DeJean's 35 yards on 7 carries. Mark Bennett was the leading Southwest receiver with 3 catches for 27 yards.
The win is the first for new Citrus head coach Ron Ponciano, who also coached at LA Valley a few years back. Citrus will travel to Santa Maria to take on Allan Hancock next Saturday. LA Southwest falls to 0-3 on the season with a road game against East LA scheduled for next week.
Citrus Owls 32
LA Southwest Cougars 24
Saturday, September 19, 2009 - 1 pm - Citrus College Stadium - Glendora
C - Stansell 10 yd run (kick wide left) 9:00 (6-0)
C - Romero 29 yd pass from Ingram (Fakatoka run) 9:50 (14-0)
LA - Bailey 38 yd interception return (DeLeon kick) 6:27 (14-7)
C - Safety - punt snap out of end zone 3:24 (16-7)
C - Ingram 1 yd run (pass failed - incomplete) 2:02 (22-7)
LA - Wooten 6 yd pass from DeJean (DeLeon kick) 0:25 (22-14)
C - Barbone 1 yd run (De Lira kick) 3:02 (29-14)
LA - Shaw fumble recovery in end zone (DeLeon kick) 14:17 (29-21)
C - FG De Lira 35 yds 8:26 (32-21)
LA - FG DeLeon 22 yds 3:19 (32-24)
First Downs: Citrus 26 (7 rush, 17 pass, 2 penalty), LA Southwest 10 (3 rush, 4 pass, 3 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Citrus 38-122, LA Southwest 21-33
Passing Yds: Citrus 320, LA Southwest 110
Comp-Att-Int: Citrus 25-43-2, LA Southwest 15-31-1
Return Yds: Citrus 92, LA Southwest 193
Sacks-Yds: Citrus 3-11, LA Southwest 2-11
Fumbles-Lost: Citrus 2-1, LA Southwest 4-0
Penalties-Yds: Citrus 13-112, LA Southwest 10-56
Time of Possession: Citrus 33:29, LA Southwest 26:31
Rushing: Citrus 20-Tucker 15-63, 24-Stansell 8-47, 30-Gilmore 6-25, 44-Barbone 1-1, 2-Ingram 6-(-12), team 2-(-2); LA Southwest 8-DeJean 7-35, 2-Small 3-14, 20-Norwood 8-4, 82-Littleton 1-(-2), team 2-(-18)
Passing: Citrus 2-Ingram 25-43-2-320, 1 TD; LA Southwest 8-DeJean 15-31-1-110, 1 TD
Receiving: Citrus 11-Baca 6-94, 4-Waits 4-48, 24-Stansell 4-29, 20-Tucker 3-24, 7-Price 2-44, 84-Romero 2-38, 8-Bithell 2-30, 19-Cheaney 1-18, 30-Gilmore 1-(-5); LA Southwest 81-Bennett 3-27, 11-Pandy 2-33, 1-Wooten 2-17, 88-Shaw 2-13, 2-Small 2-(-3), 85-Ross 1-11, 80-Morris 1-6, 82-Littleton 1-5, 4-White 1-1
Interceptions-Ret Yds: Citrus 5-Flentroy 1-0; LA southwest 34-Bailey 1-38, 22-Conway 1-22
Sacks-Yds: Citrus 50-Aguilar 1-6, 35-Skarseth 1-3, 91-Carrera 1-2; LA Southwest 48-Wade 1-9, 4-Wimberly 1-2
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: Citrus none; LA Southwest 88-Shaw 1-0
Punters: Citrus 80-Zaragoza 4-40.5 avg; LA Southwest 18-Ruiz 5.33.4 avg
Kick Returns: Citrus 6-Whitehead 2-57, 24-Stansell 1-24, 34-Kamoski 1-11, 30-Gilmore 1-(-5); LA Southwest 83-Young 2-56, 42-Hines 2-36, 28-Stewart 1-21, 24-Coleman 1-15
Punt Returns: Citrus 24-Stansell 2-0; LA Southwest 4-White 1-5
Missed FG: LA Southwest 18-Ruiz 42 yds (short)
Notes: Both teams entered 0-2. Citrus' 3rd TD came 4 plays after the free kick following the safety. Crazy play for LASW's final TD...DeJean's pass deflected off 35-Skarseth and into the hands of Flentroy in the end zone; everyone thought the play was over, but the whistle never blew and Shaw ended up with the ball for an LA Southwest touchdown. LA Southwest's field goal came after Conway's interception. LA Southwest kicked the ball deep on the ensuing kickoff and had plenty of time to get the ball back, but Citrus got a pair of 1st downs and ran out the clock.