Football Tigers Bring It ‘Home’

Running back Ethan Hong (22) ran for 95 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns Monday as South Pas beat Temple City 21-14. The game had been scheduled for Temple City on Friday, but was switched to South Pas on Monday when a pipe burst on the Temple City field. Photo by Henk Friezer

The South Pas High varsity football Tigers used the weekend and an unexpected “home’’ game to their advantage on Monday night, beating Temple City 21-14 for their first Rio Hondo League victory of the season.

Temple City was supposed to be host Friday night, but due to a pipe bursting on its field and maintenance crews unable to make it safe to play on, the coaches agreed to play in South Pasadena on Monday.

Temple City was technically the home team.

South Pas improved to 6-3 overall, 2-2 on the road and 1-2 in the league after losing the previous two weeks to Rio Hondo foes San Marino and Monrovia, the latter in a blowout.

Monday’s South Pas win ended with drama.

With under a minute left in the game and down by a touchdown, Temple City went all the way down the field and ended up on the 1-yard line with seconds left but was stuffed short as time expired.

Tiger coach Jeff Chi said the coaches guessed correctly as to what the Temple City quarterback was going to do on the final play.

“They were in a shotgun all night long,” Chi said. “A couple times when the quarterback was under the center, he went there to kill the clock and the other times, he went for a quarterback sneak. When he got underneath it, we knew. I think our coach slanted all of the guys inside blitz, and I’m glad he just went up the middle. …

“Everyone clogged up the hole like they’re supposed to — maintained their gap — and it was good for us. We had a successful stop there.”

The quarterback Chi was referring to was Temple City’s backup Felix Avitia — who entered the game toward the end of the first half when starting quarterback Alex Vera went down with what looked like an ankle injury.

Just before those last-second dramatics, the Tigers were able to go all the way down the field early in the fourth quarter to run it in to take the one-touchdown lead.

For South Pas, Ethan Hong finished the game with 95 yards on 14 attempts with two touchdowns. He had three strong runs during the Tigers’ final drive — a 27-yard run, a 15-yard run and the 14-yard touchdown run.

The Tigers’ game plan was to balance the pass and the run, but it turns out the run worked much better for them this game — they finished with 149 yards rushing, with all their points coming on the ground.

“We didn’t want to continue to be in a second- or third-and-long situation by dropped balls, so we decided to start running the ball,” Chi said. “We were very effective, and we knew we could run the ball. [Hong] kind of carried the game for us in the end. I was glad that he got those touchdowns and showcased what he is capable of doing. Hopefully he can do more of it (this) week.”

It was a back-and-forth battle between the sides with neither side leading by more than a touchdown.

Temple City was very run-heavy during the game, but South Pasadena was able to keep the Rams contained to a certain extent.

The Tigers now get ready for their last game of the regular season — against La Cañada on the road. The Spartans are coming off a 51-3 blowout loss to Monrovia on Friday.

“We have a short week here, but we just have to deal with it,” Chi said. “I’m sure they were here tonight watching, so they had an extra day to prepare for us. But hopefully our guys will focus and get it done.”

The game will be on Friday at 7 p.m.

La Cañada is 5-4 overall and 1-2 in league play. The two teams are fighting for the third place spot that South Pas currently holds because of a one-loss difference in overall record.

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