While his teammates celebrated what is up to this point of the season the Titans’ greatest accomplishment, San Marino High School placekicker Jordan Evans had a little more work to do. Even though he had about ninety minutes earlier kicked a 32-yard field goal that would provide the eventual winning points in last Friday night’s rivalry game at South Pasadena, Evans calmly disassembled the portable net system he uses to practice his craft on the sideline.
“Surely your teammates already carried you off the field on their shoulders,” Evans was asked, responding with a smile and typically understated “no.” It would have been a well-deserved gesture had they given him a hero’s ride, but that’s not Evans’ style. Jersey, pads and helmet already removed, the lanky junior simply went about the business of scooping up his footballs and folding up his apparatus.
As time expired on the first half, Evans calmly booted a 32-yard field goal that easily could have gone about 45 yards to break what had been a scoreless tie and send the Titans into the locker room with a 3-0 lead and, more importantly, much-needed momentum. And while San Marino outplayed their counterparts in the second half, both squads scored touchdowns and extra points in the final two stanzas as the Titans escaped with a 10-7 win, the Crowley Cup, the varsity perpetual trophy and a healthy dose of confidence as La Cañada comes calling on Friday for Homecoming 2019.
San Marino, 1-1 in the Rio Hondo League, has now won nine straight in the rivalry between the two schools that were once housed under the same roof.
Leading 3-0 in the third quarter, the Titans assembled a solid drive behind the workmanlike running of tailback Nick Singhal. A 36-yard pass from Connor Short to Trond Grizzell put the ball on the Tigers’ ten yard line and Singhal found pay dirt on the next play to give the Titans a 10-0 lead with 8:32 remaining in the third stanza after Evans nailed the extra point.
The Tigers pulled to within 10-7 on a one-yard run by senior tailback Ethan Hong, but San Marino was able to hold onto the ball for the better part of the evening and keep the Tigers at bay.
Short, who was returning from an injury that kept him sidelined the previous three games, completed 17 of 22 passes for 208 yards, 12 of which were nabbed by Grizzell, who picked up 173 receiving yards. Junior Matthew Karapetyan caught four passes for 48 yards as head Coach Justin Mesa kept the Tigers off-balance with creative play-calling that took advantage of a strong running game and a passing attack that looked to complete short throws while taking an occasional shot downfield.
Singhal carried 15 times for 63 yards and the touchdown, Karapetyan had six attempts for 29 yards and Short called his own number seven times for 41 yards.
But it was the Titan defense that carried the day, or night, as San Marino was able to keep dual-threat quarterback Sidney Luna-Long under wraps and neutralize the dangerous Hong. Senior linebacker Yohannes Zerihun may have played the finest game of his career, making four tackles, swatting away four passes and disrupting the Tigers’ offense with all-around hustle. Senior linebacker Seth Matzumoto was credited with eight stops, Nathan Fajardo made six tackles and Singhal added four. Junior cornerback Jackson Herren pitched in with two tackles while defending three passes to help give Mesa his first Rio Hondo League win and initial rivalry victory.
La Cañada pays a visit to Titan Stadium on Friday at 7:00 p.m. for a game that could go a long way to determine the two squads’ playoff chances. The Spartans have a 56-42 win over Temple City under their belts but have had difficulty with the Titans, who have won seven of the last contests between the two teams. Last year, San Marino routed the Spartans by a final score of 49-0, but La Cañada has proven they can find the end zone in 2019.