It’s never been proven to have actually happened, but there is an old story about Lee Corso, one of the anchors of the wildly popular ESPN College GameDay road show, and it goes like this. While coaching Indiana in a Big Ten game against Ohio State, Corso reportedly called a time out when his Hoosiers scored a touchdown and extra point to take an early 7-6 lead over the perennially powerful Buckeyes. Corso asked a photographer to get the scoreboard in the background for posterity’s sake, given that it had been several years since Indiana had held any type of a lead over Ohio State.
The Buckeyes rolled to a 47-7 win and—true or not—Corso holds onto the legend.
Given the end result of last Friday’s season-opening contest, new San Marino head football Coach Justin Mesa in retrospect might consider a similar ploy. His Titans took the opening kickoff, marched downfield and scored the first points of the game on a 34-yard field goal by Jordan Evans to take an early 3-0 lead. The only problem being that—similar to Ohio State—host Charter Oak scored the next 42 as San Marino dropped the first contest in the Mesa Administration.
“Overall, I thought the kids came out with a lot of energy and played very hard,” said Mesa after a few days passed to let the result settle. “But we made a lot of mental mistakes as the night went on and they were very hard to overcome. You can’t do that against a program of quality like Charter Oak and hope to get away with it.”
Charter Oak is and San Marino didn’t. The Chargers found the end zone in just about every imaginable manner and the Titans avoided it in a similar fashion. Charter Oak scored on a 60-yard punt return, a 99-yard interception return and a 28-yard scamper with a recovered fumble.
Conversely, the Titans couldn’t find paydirt after Neven Yaramahdi intercepted a Charger pass and returned it to the Charter Oak seven yard line. While there are baskets of x’s and o’s to decipher, that pretty much tells the story of the opener. The Titans mustered just 81 rushing yards on 21 carries and 151 yards through the air as the hosts controlled the ball, clock and line of scrimmage in true Charter Oak fashion. Titan quarterback Connor Short completed 9 of 22 passes and Yaramahdi was able to squeeze out 44 yards on six carries to lead the way. Junior Trond Grizzell caught three passes for 57 yards and Matthew Karapetyan hauled in two for 48 yards, but that pretty much ends the story.
Senior middle linebacker Seth Matzumoto led the defense with seven tackles, Yohannes Zerihun added five, Seth Canul chipped in with four and Jackson Herren recovered a fumble as the Titans dropped to 0-1.
“We made some mistakes and got very tired as the night wore on,” Mesa said. “A lot of our guys were cramping up and that is something I have to look into as a head coach. The kids are responsible for part of this but overall, it’s the job of the coaching staff to have them ready. We saw areas in which we are lacking and now we have to go to work to get better.”
Mesa said he was impressed with “the initial effort” but said the Titans have to “figure out how to fight after the early stages of the game.”
There is little relief in sight as San Marino returns to Covina to square off with Northview, a 31-23 winner over El Rancho last week and a 2018 conqueror of the Titans.
“They are a very good team,” said Mesa. “They have excellent team speed and play a lot of defense. This will be a big challenge for us. We are going from one quality opponent to another. This is going to be a big challenge.”