Fri, Oct 01 2010 01:30 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
It isn’t December, so a loss isn’t fatal quite yet. But certainly the faithful gathered along the Eastlake sideline for last Friday’s homecoming game against the fifth-ranked Steele Canyon Cougars had to be feeling a lump in their throats as the seconds ticked away on an apparent 17-13 loss.
The scenario was indeed bleak: The third-ranked Titans had the ball on their own 28-yard line with less than a minute to play facing fourth down and 10. It appeared as if the hosts were down to their last play.
As it turned out, Eastlake would run off four more plays, including reserve quarterback Josh Palet’s first down strike to standout receiver Chris Fletcher that went from being a modest12-yard gain for a first down to a 53-yard sprint down the sideline to the Cougar 19-yard line.
Three plays later, infused with renewed purpose but extremely short on time, Palet connected with Jordan Hines, the Titans’ starting quarterback turned receiver, in the back corner of the endzone for a 21-yard game-winning touchdown pass to complete a miracle finish with 15 seconds left.
“The team has a lot of pride — we don’t give up easily,” Titan head coach John McFadden said. “It was a cool win because we weren’t playing at our best because of all the distractions from homecoming. But, yes, on that fourth down play, everyone at that time on the sideline wasn’t feeling too optimistic. We weren’t in very good shape.”
The Top 10 San Diego Section match-up started like gang-busters as both teams scored two touchdowns in the first quarter. Jude Isbell scored on a six-yard run to put the hosts up 6-0. Isbell’s workhorse counterpart for Steele Canyon, Jake Wragg, answered with a four-yard run to put the visitors ahead 7-6. But the Cougar lead lasted just 10 seconds before Isbell dashed 80 yards on the Titans’ ensuing first play from scrimmage. Brandon Watson scored on a two-yard run to put Steele Canyon back in front 14-13.
The game turned into a stellar defensive battle over the final three quarters, with Daniel Uribe booting a 38-yard field goal in the second quarter to extend the Cougar lead to 17-13.
The game-winning play extended Eastlake’s unbeaten streak to 17 games (15-0-2) over two seasons.
“At that point in the game, I knew a field goal would do us no good,” McFadden said. “I knew we had to have a touchdown, so I called a pass play. Josh is a good passer and put the ball up over their defender. It was one-on-one and Jordan went up and got it.”
“Josh trusted me with the ball and I had to make the play for my team,” Hines said.
Despite having only 15 seconds to work with, the Cougars managed to get into position to attempt a 49-yard field goal with seven seconds to play. But Uribe’s kick, which may have been partially blocked, fell short.
The win proved costly as Isbell (16 carries, 195 yards) left the game with a concussion and his services are questionable for Friday’s game at Cathedral Catholic.
© 2009 The Star-News