By Gary Montgomery
Poly 38 San Gorgonio 33
Early on it looked as if it would be an easy night’s work for Riverside Poly. The Bears (12-0) scored on their first three possessions and built a 21-0 lead before most of its fans could find parking and get into the stadium. San Gorgionio got off to a slow start and found themselves getting pushed around by the bigger Bears’ front line.
“We lost one of our key players tonight and I think our guys kind of let that get them down a little bit early in the game,” said San Gorgonio head coach Ron Gueringer. “We just struggled to get going early.”
Whatever the distraction, it garnered no sympathy from the Bears. Poly’s Ykili Ross scored on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Chandler Draschlin on the opening drive for a 6-0 lead. On their next possession after the Spartan’s offense sputtered, the Bears completed an eight play 54-yard drive capped off by a short run up the middle by Evan Telliard for the score giving Poly a 14-0 lead after the extra point.
After San Gorgonio’s offense failed again to ignite, Poly got the ball back and needed only five plays to convert it into another touchdown and a 21-0 lead courtesy of a 4-yard run by Matthew Huber and extra point conversion by Kyle Avery.
“Fortunately, we got out to a good start and got a good lead because we needed every bit of that at the end,” said Poly’s head coach Dennis Brown.
The Spartan’s finally got it going in the second quarter when quarterback Nathan Meadors threw a screen pass to tailback Wesley Hill who then scampered 15-yards to change the scoreboard to 21-7 after the conversion by Manual Perez-Medina.
The Spartans defense showed up soon after that when Alvin Bibbs picked off a Draschlin pass attempt giving the Spartans excellent field position and a chance to close the Bears’ lead to 7. Unfortunately, the tide hadn’t turned completely and Meador’s first pass was picked off by Poly’s LaMet Fowler.
Fowler returned the ball to the Spartans 17-yard line where Poly senior running back Devontre Hale took over with a 28-yard scoring run on the first play to extend the Bears lead to 28-7. Hale, rushed for 175-yards on the evening and has nearly 1800 yards from scrimmage for the season.
Meadors and the Spartan offense started to roll in the second quarter. Leaning on his scrambling ability, Meadors led the Spartans on back to back scoring drives to cut Poly’s lead to 28-14 at halftime and give the Spartans’ faithful fan hope for a comeback. Meadors continued his magic in the second half when he hit Alvin Bibbs streaking across the back of the end for a 5-yard touchdown that brought the Spartans within one score at 28-21.
Poly quickly sensed the seriousness of the situation and responded with a scoring drive culminated with a 9-yard TD pass from Draschlin to Ross to extend their lead to 35-21.
Incredibly, Meadows and the Spartans kept coming out scoring the Bears 20-10 in the second half but were still unable to overcome their slow start and overtake the Bears.
“We played hard. Everybody gave it everything they had. We just didn’t quite have enough tonight,” said Meadors. “We got too far down early and that was the difference.”
Meadors had 190-yards rushing and over 70 passing while accounting for nearly 300 yards of total offense in the Spartans season finale. San Gorgonio finishes the season 10-2.
Riverside Poly will move on to the semi-final round of the CIF Playoffs against Heritage on Friday evening.
Gary Montgomery can be reached at email@example.com