The South Pasadena High School Tigers varsity football team improved to 2-0 on the season Friday night – and did so in dramatic style in their home opener, recording a 21-17 comeback victory over Viewpoint.
With the Tigers trailing 17-14, quarterback Samuel Luna-Long engineered a 60-yard, 10-play touchdown drive that began with 4:58 left and was capped by a two-yard scoring run from Quentin Pithey with 2:24 to go.
The touchdown ended the night’s scoring – but not the night’s drama.
Viewpoint marched right back down the field, with quarterback Nick Candido eventually finding a receiver in the back of the end zone for an apparent go-ahead, 20-yard TD. But the play was nullified on a holding call against Viewpoint, and the Tigers had life.
Then, with five seconds remaining, South Pasadena made a substitution at defensive end, and linebacker Ethan Hong pressured Candido into an ill-advised pass into the dirt — securing the Tigers’ white-knuckle win as the players charged onto the field.
On the Tigers’ winning drive, Luna-Long completed five of six passes for 27 yards. The running game also contributed, keyed by Hong’s a 19-yard run to the Patriots’ 2-yard line, setting up Pithey’s go-ahead TD run one play later.
Before the winning theatrics, the Tigers had trouble sustaining long drives, and penalties were common. In all, the Tigers were flagged for seven penalties totaling 58 yards.
When it was over, the home crowd cheered … and the home team exhaled.
“It was a great game, but kind of sloppy on both the offense and defensive side of the ball,” said running back Ivan Estrada, who totaled 198 yards and two touchdowns on the evening. “It starts at practice, and people not being so hard on themselves.”
Added Coach Jeff Chi: “We knew at the end, we could just keep going at it, not lose a beat. It’s just a matter of executing and keeping the ball moving forward.”
The Tigers will travel to Eastside High in Lancaster next week, hoping to go 3-0.