Though it would be admittedly lengthy, a full recap of Oct. 27’s de facto Rio Hondo League championship game between visiting Monrovia and San Marino would provide feeble narrative to what was one of the most entertaining high school football games in, well, about two years.
But for the 14th time in the past 15 years and despite the best efforts of the Titans, the ‘Cats came out on top, holding on by the hair on their chinny chin chins for a 42-37 victory and, barring the almost impossible, yet another league title.
San Marino fought back from a 21-6 second quarter deficit to carry both the lead and substantial momentum into the locker room when Aloisio Figueira booted a 36-yard field goal on the final play of the half for a 23-20 advantage in the last regular season home game of the campaign.
Monrovia reclaimed the lead just minutes into the third quarter when the talented Maury Rams IV scored on a 10-yard run to put the Wildcats ahead 28-23.
But Titan quarterback Blake Cabot tumbled over from a yard out just a few minutes later to put San Marino back on top 30-28.
Hard as it might seem to imagine, things were just starting to get interesting.
Cabot tied the bow on a long drive with another 1-yard run with Figueira’s extra point giving the Titans a 37-28 lead with 8:35 remaining in the contest.
But the ‘Cats had an immediate answer. On the very first play from scrimmage after the ensuing kickoff, quarterback Trevor McPherson fired a short hitch pass to the dangerous Michael Washington, who raced 65 yards to paydirt. McPherson found Jordan Erby for a two-point conversion, cutting San Marino’s lead to 37-36.
The Titans gutted out another drive and appeared to stretch their advantage when Cabot connected with Sean Richardson on a 21-yard scoring pass with just under eight minutes to play.
But a disputed holding penalty nullified the score and the drive stalled, not not without a fair amount of dissent from San Marino head Coach Mike Hobbie. On the next play, Monrovia appeared to interfere with wide receiver Wheeler Smith while Cabot was hit after delivering the pass. Hobbie was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and the Titans had to punt.
Monrovia made San Marino pay for its indiscretions. Rams ripped off two more long runs, McPherson found Washington for 32 yards and the ‘Cats were back in business.
Three Rams runs later and Monrovia struck gold again with three minutes left to play. A two point conversion pass was broken up by San Marino’s E.J. Sung and the Wildcats led 42-37.
Monrovia kicked the ball out of bounds to give the Titans a short field. Yet another sensational catch by Wheeler Smith put the ball at San Marino’s 46 yard line when Cabot lobbed an otherwise benign screen pass to running back Beau Hobbie. Displaying all of his substantial speed and shift, Hobbie left six defenders in his wake as he streaked to the end zone.
But the play was nullified by a debatable illegal block call that exacted more wrath from the home crowd.
Undaunted, the Titans continued to march. Passes to Richardson, Smith and Richardson pushed the ball to the Wildcats’ 25 yard line. A pass interference call against Washington, who was trying to cover San Marino’s John Hutchison, placed the ball on the 12 yard line.
But Cabot was sacked and with no time outs, the Titans had to scramble to get off a play. Cabot fired a desperation pass to Smith in the corner of the end zone. The junior appeared to have been interfered with but there was no call.
And no championship for the Titans.
“The breaks didn’t seem to go our way,” said Mike Hobbie, perfecting the craft of understatement. “Our kids played extremely hard against ab really good team
the outcome easily could have been a whole lot different in our favor. To have two touchdowns called back on ill-timed penalties…”
That was a sentence Hobbie didn’t complete.
The coach praised Smith for “a fantastic game.”
“It was a huge game for Wheeler,” he said of the junior, who finished with six catches for 82 yards and 14 tackles. “Beau made some really good plays and Cabot also had a strong game.”
Beau Hobbie finished the contest with 29 carries for 162 yards rushing and four receptions for 61 more yards.
Hobbie also praised Hutchison for excellent downfield blocking.
“And I have to hand it to our offensive line,” Hobbie added. “They did a really good job against a very big defensive line.”
Defensively, Hobbie singled out linebacker Kade Wentz and Smith for their outstanding play. Jack Hornberger pitched in with ten tackles and Thomas Ary was credited with eight.
The Titans have just one game left in the regular season, Friday’s journey to South Pasadena and the battle for the Crowley Cup. It will be a dangerous assignment against a team that has nothing to lose.
“They have some good kids they look like they have struggled to find an identity,” Hobbie said. “They have made a lot of changes to their offense, but they have some good players. Just like Monrovia, you cannot play the game of comparative scores. They are much better than their record indicates.”
South Pas has put every chip on the table for the finale, waiting until the final week of the season to schedule Homecoming in an effort to mass all the motivation possible to beat San Marino after a 9-year drought.