Fri, Oct 05 2012 01:36 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The Hilltop Lancers finally got the Bonita Vista Barons’ number last Friday in a non-league football game played at Olympian High School.
The two teams have met on an ongoing basis since Bonita Vista’s opening in 1967. If any type of trophy were attached to the game, the Barons would have collected the lion’s share of them.
In fact, Hilltop’s 35-28 overtime victory ended a streak of 18 consecutive Bonita Vista victories (including a forfeit win in 2004). The 44-year series record now stands at 30-13-1 in the Barons’ favor.
The Lancers have to feel, however, there is room to grow. Certainly, the ongoing rivalry between the teams — which brought out the best in high school football last Friday — seems worthy of some form of official recognition at this point.
The Optimist Bowl? The Rotary Bowl?
How about it, Chula Vista service clubs?
Hilltop head coach Cody Roelof found it difficult to address his team following the dramatic win, which was cemented on a three-yard run by Dustin Downs.
“Words can’t express how proud I am of you,” Roelof told his team, which ended a disappointing 0-4 start. “You deserve this. Take this and build on it for the rest of the season. You finally got the monkey off your back.”
Actually, it might have seemed like a gorilla.
“We just had to score to win to get our first win of the season,” said Downs, who rushed 13 times for 89 yards and scored two touchdowns in the game.
Leading 28-7 midway through the third quarter, Hilltop appeared to be cruising to what some might have considered an upset victory. But three unanswered touchdowns later by the Barons and the Lancers suddenly had to be wondering if their season was cursed and a fifth straight loss might instead be in the offing.
But the men in green searched inside themselves, dug deep for inspiration and persevered in the face of adversity.
After Austin Kane’s 64-yard scoring pass to Caleb Su and a David Villasenor PAT conversion tied the game at 28 with 6:01 left in the game, Bonita Vista recovered a fumble at the Hilltop 23-yard line with 5:08 to play.
The Barons drove to the one-yard line but a tackle for a loss and a penalty forced a field goal attempt from the 12-yard line. Instead of capping an unbelievable BV victory, Villasenor’s kick sailed wide right with 2:42 left to leave the teams knotted on the scoreboard.
Amazingly, both teams would get one more possession before overtime. The Lancers stunned fans on both sides of the field as quarterback Daniel Sanchez, about to be sacked, hurled a 32-yard pass down field to Sergio Vidrio.
But a potential game-winning field goal by Hilltop was not in the cards as a penalty on the Lancers and subsequent tip and pick by Bonita Vista gave the Barons one last shot with the ball at midfield with 21.6 seconds left.
But Hilltop’s James Lett foiled any miraculous comeback as he snagged an interception to end regulation play.
With that, momentum suddenly seemed to shift.
Hilltop won the toss for overtime and got the ball first at the 25-yard line. Downs carried to the 16 but an ensuing penalty quickly brought up third-and-nine. Sanchez found Lett at the five, and Downs would not be denied entry to the end zone on a subsequent carry.
Lancer fans were ecstatic as their team went on top by seven points.
Despite their torrid second-half comeback, Bonita Vista’s overtime possession proved anticlimactic.
Kane passed 13 yards to Su to the 12 and a five-yard run quickly moved the ball to the seven-yard line. But the Barons unexpectedly sputtered and instead found themselves marching backward thanks to a 10-yard holding penalty.
Three incompletions later, Hilltop had its first win of the season.
“The momentum was on their side the whole second half,” Downs said. “It meant everything to get that first win. We have a young quarterback. We need to get some momentum going as we head into league play.”
Hilltop hosts Castle Park (1-4) in a non-league game this Friday and plays at Montgomery on Oct. 12 before kicking off Metro-South Bay League play with a road game at Southwest on Oct. 19.
Bonita Vista, which fell to 2-3 on the season, kicks off Metro-Mesa League play this Friday at undefeated Otay Ranch (5-0).
BV coach Greg Raby said he couldn’t be angry with his team after just falling short in last Friday’s marathon battle.
“It was a hell of a game — they were whipping our asses,” Raby said succinctly. “We made some adjustments. We scored with six minutes left to tie it and had a chance to win it with a field goal with two minutes left but missed it. My hat’s off to Cody and his staff.
“My kids made a fantastic comeback, and I’m proud of that. They didn’t give up and battled to the end and made it exciting. With that type of comeback, you can’t be mad.”
By the numbers
Sanchez earned his first victory as a varsity signal-caller by completing 10 of 23 passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns. Montel Campbell had three catches for 73 yards while Vidrio caught two passes for 61 yards.
Hilltop rushed 34 times for 229 yards, led by Drake Madarang with seven carries for 106 yards. Campbell had 10 rushes for 38 yards.
Sanchez passed nine yards to Lett, 41 yards to Campbell and 22 yards to Downs to collect his three TD scores.
Madarang scored on a 53-yard romp.
Bonita Vista actually scored the game’s opening touchdown on an 11-yard run by Devlon Miller. But 28 answered points later by the Lancers, the Barons trailed by 21 points.
Kane finished the game with 220 passing yards and three TDs — one each to Atal Khaliq (29 yards), Miller (43 yards) and Su.
Su caught three passes for 86 yards while Miller had three catches for 52 yards. Khaliq, who entered the game as the section’s leading receiver, was held to the one touchdown pass reception in the game.
Bonita Vista’s ground game generated 121 yards — 87 by Miller on 13 carries.
For the season, Kane has passed for 1,066 yards and nine touchdowns; Khaliq has 489 yards on 25 catches and four TDs.
© 2009 The Star-News