Monrovia Takes a Punch, Remains Standing

Like manna from Heaven…M-Town’s George Frazier hauls in San Marino’s onside kick attempt and secures the Wildcats 26th consecutive Rio Hondo League victory.

By Joe Torosian, Sports Writer
October 31, 2012 • 470 views

By Joe Torosian

Monrovia, CA - The back to back Mid-Valley Division champs hadn’t taken a punch in Rio Hondo League play for a long time, it hadn’t been off its feet in league play since 2007, so when George Frazier collected San Marino’s onside kick with 57.9 seconds remaining Friday night Monrovia was able to breathe easier and secure its 21-16 win over the Titans.

With no intention of being pre-playoff fodder San Marino opened the show by editing six minutes off the clock and taking a 3-0 lead. Later in the third quarter, after Zach Bowles intercepted a Blake Heyworth pass in the end zone, SM drove the ball the length of the field before Nick Gott cashed in from a yard out and it was 10-7 in favor of the visitors.

In RHL play this was an unfamiliar turn for the Wildcats. The Titans were violating the first rule of league football; “Monrovia must always win”.

A cliche become a cliche because of redundancy and a champion becomes a champion because it always responds.

Starting at its own 20 with 8:19 to play in the third, Monrovia went on the march. Darione Jones went for 4-yards. Heyworth hit Crayvon Gillespie for 9-yards. Geovontray Ainsworth picked up 2-yards on the ground before another Heyworth pass went 9-yards to Mason Bryant.

With a first down at his own 45, Heyworth passed the ball to Ainsworth and the senior running back chewed up yardage down to the San Marino 35. Another short pass to Bryant went 5-yards. Jones ran for 3-yards and Ainsworth ran for eight more. Then on first down from the 19, Heyworth went to Anthony Craft, veteran of three CIF finals teams, for the touchdown and a 14-10 lead.

Ryan Wood brought the ensuing kick-off back to the Monrovia 49, but the Titans were soon forced to punt after Matt Wofford was tackled for a loss and third down pass fell incomplete.

The Wildcats punted the ball back in the final minutes of the third quarter and again San Marino had a first down at the M-Town 49. In three plays Wofford moved his team inside the Wildcats 30 before getting stripped of the ball on the fourth play. Isaac Miravet recovered and Monrovia was able to take six full minutes off the clock before punting it back to the Titans.

The ball on its own 20 and 5:10 to play San Marino was in a position few teams in the RHL over the last five years have found themselves. They had the ball, the tools, and the time, deliver a death below to Wildcat supremacy… it was Brett Walsh the M-Town defense who struck.

Wofford, on first down, took the snap and drifted back. As he has done many times this season, Gott began to drag along the line of scrimmage to receive Wofford’s shovel pass. This time the ball was delivered too high and too fast, it cleared the trenches and went into the arms of Walsh. The Northwestern bound linebacker returned it to the eleven and three plays later Mason Bryant dropped the hammer.

Heyworth’s pass to the corner of the end zone was good, but Bryant’s text book two handed catch over the defender was great. The senior, and three time CIF finals veteran, added the point after to make it 21-10 Monrovia.

On the Titans next drive Wofford completed 8 of 11 passes and led his team down the field for the game’s final score. On second and goal from the four he hit Buddy McLoskey for the touchdown.

After the two point attempt failed, San Marino’s Wofford delivered the expected onside kick that Frazier went high to recover.  A few running plays, including a 16-yard blast by Ainsworth, and a kneel down clinched it for the champs.

Next week M-Town, 7-2, 4-0 in league, is expected to officially wrap up its fifth consecutive Rio Hondo title. The loss for the Titans was its first of the season, 8-1, 3-1 in league, they close out the schedule with their annual battle with South Pasadena.

The Wildcats Heyworth completed 16 of 23 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns, one pick. Bryant had five grabs for 94 yards and touchdown, Craft four for 47 yards and a scored. San Marino’s Wofford was 12 of 21 for 161 yards, with a touchdown and one interception. Gott caught five of those passes for 98 yards.

After the Titans took a 3-0 lead their defense was able to make it stand until midway through the second quarter. At the 5:30 mark Jones turned a third down and one from the San Marino 35 into a touchdown and a 7-3 Wildcat lead in the first half.

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