Lions Hold off Colts

Photo by Duane Barker

Brandon Martinez gets it done on the ground and through the air against the Colts

Tim Peterson

By Tim Peterson
Covina, CA - Brandon Martinez threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for two more and Josh Wu intercepted a pass late in the fourth quarter as El Monte held off Covina 30-28 Thursday night at Covina District Field.
Covina down by two was driving towards a possible winning score late in the final quarter but Emilio Zertuche’s fourth down pass from the 31 was picked off by Wu in front of the goal line and returned back to the Colt 45 with just under two minutes left to seal the victory. The Lions then got a first down and ran out the clock.
El Monte seemed to be in control in the third quarter. Martinez capped a 33 yard drive with a three yard run taking advantage of a Covina turnover. On the next possession Adolfo Sanchez hauled in a 36 yard strike from Martinez to finish a 76 yard march.
A 14-10 Covina halftime lead was now 24-14 Lions heading into the fourth but Covina wasn’t ready to go quietly into the night.
Zertuche led a 55 yard drive to the end zone. He hit Darren Torres for a 14 yard touchown pass to cut the advantage to 24-21.
The Colts made a stop on the next series and got the ball back but the turnover bug bit them again. Zertuche was hit in the backfield and the ball popped loose, Ruben Jiminez fell on it and the Lions were in business at the Covina 27.
Two plays later Martinez cashed in by scampering 27 yards into the endzone for a 30-21 lead. The Lions failed on a two point conversion attempt to lead 30-21. El Monte went for two on every score despite having a healthy kicker.
“We’re going to go for two on every possession. You can count on that. Regardless of the situation,” said El Monte Coach Joel Sanchez.
Covina responded with a 70 yard drive to get within two and a game winning field goal. Zertuche connected with Evan Stretton for a 21 yard TD pass.
Covina then held El Monte and had one last shot until Wu’s pick spelled the end.
“We gave up 28 points but we made the plays when we had to,” Sanchez said. “That’s a good team over there. I put Josh Wu in there at safety and he made a big play.”
The game really didn’t start until the second quarter. After a scoreless first, El Monte sacked Zertuche in the endzone for a safety and a 2-0 lead. Later in the quarter, Martinez hit Abel Barajas over the middle who pulled in the ball with one hand and turned it into a 48 yard touchdown.
Covina pieced together two long drives behind the running of Frankie Ramirez in the second to take a 14-10 halftime advantage. Zertuche hit Mike Peters for a 14 yard score. With just 31 seconds left in the second quarter Pernell Smalley completed a 53 yard drive with a two yard run to send the Colts into the break with some momentum.
The Lions then grabbed it back with the two third quarter scores.
Martinez completed 16 of 36 for 235 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once by Christian Padilla. He rushed for 73 yards and two scores on 13 carries.
Barajas caught five passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. Bryan Luevano rushed for 52 yards and had four receptions for 36.
For Covina Zertuche threw for 140 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 37 and Ramirez had 127 yards on 14 carries. He rushed for 95 yards in the first half.
“When we have an offense like we do and you have someone special like Brandon Martinez you have a chance to win every game,” Sanchez said. “I told them at halftime we’re going to catch them and win by one. We won by two but I’ll take it.”

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