Lions Slide Past Oilers
By: Duane Barker, Writer / Photographer
November 14, 2012 • 294 views
By Duane Barker
El Monte, CA - Brandon Martinez threw for 395-yards and six touchdowns including the game winner to Abel Barajas with just :14.8 seconds left to play to lead the El Monte Lions to a thrilling 44-43 victory over the Montebello Oilers in the first round of the Mid Valley Division playoffs Friday night.
After the Barajas score the Lions could have kicked the extra point and take the game into overtime head coach Joel Sanchez stuck with what they have been doing after every score all year and went for two. Bryan Luevano carried the ball across the line from two yards out to complete the two point conversion and give El Monte back the lead.
The stars seemed to be aligned for the Lions as they won the toss to receive the ball to open the game. On the first play from scrimmage, Martinez hit Barajas on a short slant pass. Barajas weaved his way through Oiler defenders got to the outside and was gone 74-yards to paydirt. Luevano converted the two point conversion and El Monte had an early 8-0 lead.–
Montebello came right back on the ensuing drive and cut the lead to 8-7 going 69-yards on 10 plays capped by a Marcus Portillo one yard run.
That fickle thing called momentum can change quickly and she did as Montebello reeled off 21 unanswered points on another one yard run from Portillo and a 22-yard pass from Matthew Saenz to (name). With 5:34 left in the 2nd quarter the Oilers had the lead 21-8.
With a prolific offense as those like El Monte’s being down 13 is nothing to fret over. Martinez simply led his team back to a 22-21 lead on lighting strikes of 49 and 57-yards to Josh Wu and Barajas respectively.
The Lions extended their lead to nine midway through the third period when Martinez found Wu again from 20-yards out to cap a 12-play 80-yard drive.
In a game with this type of intensity, controversy will sometime rear its ugly head and it did late in the third quarter. An interception of Saenz and return by El Monte’s Aaron Tang set the Lions up deep in Oiler territory. On the first play Martinez was ruled to have fumbled and the ball was recovered in the endzone by Montebello. For those in attendance and especially the El Monte faithful, Martinez appeared to have been down before the ball came loose.
Montebello took advantage of the turnover grinding out 80-yards on eight plays with Portillo getting his third score of the night. Edgar Tafoya booted the extra point home and the Oilers trailed by two.
Portillo had a stellar nigh gaining 194-yards on 29 carries and four scores.
Angel Gonzalez of the Lions took the ensuing kickoff and ran his way down to the Montebello 37. Another one play drive was all that was required as Martinez found Adolfo Sanchez over the middle for a 37 yard strike. This time the two point conversion failed but El Monte still had an eight point advantage.
Early in the final frame the Oilers went on a drive that culminated in another Portillo touchdown run, this time from 12 yards out. Montebello went for two and found success when Saenz found Michael Juarez. With 9:18 left in the fourth the teams were knotted at 36. Saenz completed 28 of 47 passes for 311-yards and two touchdowns.
On their next possession the Lions drove down to the Montebello ten but were thwarted when Martinez pass on fourth and goal fell incomplete.
The Oiler took advantage of the opportunity grinding up yardage and the clock on a 14-play, 90-yard scoring drive. Juarez caught a five yard pass from Saenz with only 1:04 left in regulation.
Only 1:08 you say left to go 80-yards? Not a problem for Martinez and the Lions. Only six plays were needed to cover the distance and the last 16 were on fade from Martinez to Barajas for his third touchdown of the contest. Barajas finished with 202-yards receiving and the three scores.
Down by one after the touchdown, Sanchez could have elected to kick the extra point and send the game into overtime. Instead he stuck with what they have done all year, went for two, got the score and held on for the victory.
“We run that play in practice every day and even through the summer. We’ve probably ran that play 1,000 times and that’s what we did. We got the two points we need and won the game” commented head coach Joel Sanchez after the game on his decision to go for two.