South Pasadena High’s football team improved to a 2-0 as the Tigers dropped the Santa Clarita Cardinals 30-27 last Saturday night in non-league action.
A quick Cardinals turnover put South Pasadena in good position to begin their first drive to Santa Clarita’s end zone. After taking over deep in Santa Clarita Christian territory, the Tigers displayed an effective ground game with junior running back Jackson Totleben leading a South Pas drive to the Cardinals’ 22 yard line. Senior utility player Jalen Ross tallied two additional carries for the Tigers, but a lockdown Cardinal defense would force South Pas to kick a 25-yard field goal, giving them an early 3-0 lead.
The Cardinals’ second drive did not fare much better. After reaching their own 32-yard line, SPHS senior defensive back Jonathan Calderon picked off a Cardinal pass and took it in for the score, giving South Pas an early 10-0 lead.
After forcing another fourth down, South Pas took over on downs at the Cardinals’ 40. On the next play, Ross took off on a 60-yard touchdown run, giving the Tigers a 17-0 lead late in the first quarter.
The Tigers’ luck only grew as an interception by junior linebacker Fernando Sornoso stopped the Cardinals’ offense at midfield. A 15-yard penalty on Santa Clarita would push the ball further into Cardinal territory, setting up another touchdown opportunity for the Tigers at the start the second quarter.
After a botched snap, senior quarterback Adam Arellano remained calm, recovering the ball and connecting with Calderon in the end zone for the third South Pasadena touchdown. The Tigers now held a 24-0 lead and kept their momentum heading into the next drive. Calderon chalked up additional receptions to put the Tiger offense in the Cardinals red zone but fell short after being pushed back by a stubborn Santa Clarita defense. South Pas decided to take the field goal, making the score 27-0. Santa Clarita showed little signs of improvement in their offense as the quarterback fumbled the ball the next play into the hands of senior defensive end Max Lockridge. After gaining little yardage on their next drive, the Tigers’ punt was blocked by Santa Clarita to put the line of scrimmage at South Pasadena’s red zone late in the first half. Despite being in solid position to score, the Cardinals offense found no open targets against the Tigers’ lockdown defense and fell behind 27-0 at the half.
In the third quarter, South Pas struggled to match the same momentum in the first half as the Tigers found themselves in trouble offensively.
Another Cardinals blocked punt set the ball back at the Tigers’ 30-yard line. Unlike the drive experienced at the end of the half, Santa Clarita’s offense converted the very next play off of a 30-yard pass 9:37 minutes into the quarter. A missed extra point attempt, making it 27-6 an South Pas trying to energize its offense. The Cardinal offense scored another unanswered touchdown after muscling out a one-yard run, closing the gap 27-13. Both teams would suffer an offensive lapse as the rest of the quarter was spent sending punts in both direction.
The Tigers’ offense showed little signs of momentum opening the fourth quarter. Although South Pas held up defensively, both units struggled to get within field goal range. Desperate to score, the Cardinals pass offense chiseled away at the Tiger defense from their own 25. Santa Clarita lit up the scoreboard with a third unanswered touchdown off of the half on a 17-yard pass, making it a 27-20 contest.
South Pas countered as Ross began to find some running lanes, helping the Tigers get the ball to the Cardinals’ red zone inside of two minutes in the game. However, the Tigers offense sputtered, opting instead for a 34-yard field goal to pull ahead 30-20 lead late in the game. An ensuing pass frenzy by Santa Clarita put the Cardinals back at the Tigers 10-yard line. Santa Clarita manage to convert on fourth and third for a score, closing out the scoring, 30-27, with 5 seconds left on the clock. Despite the Cardinals attempt at an onside kick, South Pas was able to maintain possession and ran out the clock.
“It feels great to get the win, we had a good team effort all around and we showed off strong in the first half,” Calderon said. “This game really prepared us since our next game is against Bonita and they’re a tough team to beat.”
South Pas will play its first home game of the season against Bonita High (1-1) School on Friday, September 9, to try and improve to 3-0 in the preseason. Last year, Bonita came out with a 40-30 win against Monrovia High School.