Last week, I had some deadline issues with my Upland-Serrano football game story.
It did not appear in the paper, so here it is, as I wrote it Friday night.
By Pete Marshall Staff Writer
PHELAN — Upland seemed to be fighting against itself most of the
night against Serrano.
In the end, they were fighting against the officials.
And that was a battle they ultimately won.
Upland held on for a controversial 21-18 win over Serrano on Friday
night after a go-ahead touchdown by Serrano was nullified with 43
seconds to play.
“This is a tough place to play,” Upland coach Tim Salter said. “And
they’re a very good football team.”
Upland led 21-18 and had the ball, facing a third-and-seven at
midfield in the final minute. Upland running back Keith Hutchins
carried the ball and the ball came out right about the time he hit
Serrano’s Aaron Long came up with the ball and ran it back 56 yards
for an apparent touchdown.
“I heard a whistle,” Salter said. “Because he was down. But I asked
if they could talk to each other about it.”
The officials conferred, and ruled that there was a whistle. Serrano
was given the ball at its own 46 and the touchdown was nullified.
“It’s tough it came down to that. I didn’t hear any whistle,” Serrano
coach Ray Maholcic said. “It was a good game.”
On the ensuing drive, Serrano never got the ball past the Upland 39
and turned the ball over on downs.
“I liked the way we hung in there,” Maholcic said. “But we made too
many mistakes, turned the ball over.”
Upland overcame a rash of penalties, 15 for 166 yards in all and even
appeared to have the game in control.
After rallying from an 11-7 halftime deficit, Upland led 21-11 by
scoring on back-to-back drives in the third quarter.
The Highlanders (3-0) had a chance to put further distance between
themselves and the Diamondbacks (1-2), but Jake Van Ginkel missed a
38-yard field goal wide right with 3:18 to play.
Serrano came right back, driving 80 yards and closing to within 21-18
on a 12-yard touchdown catch from Joey Paterson to Laonidas
Spainhower with 1:10 to play.
When Upland recovered the onside kick attempt, the game appeared to
be over, but there was time for the final-minute drama.
Salter was relieved his team won despite the penalties and two
turnovers of their own.
“There are a lot of areas we need to improve,” Salter said.
It was the first start for Upland senior quarterback Harrison
Stewart, replacing the injured Justin Nunes.
“I think he got better as the game went on,” Salter said. “He made
good throws and felt better out there.”
Stewart completed nine of 18 passes for 194 yards and one
Serrano’s standout was running back Dionza Bradford, who rushed for
134 yards on 25 carries, but had a fumble inside the red zone for the
third time in as many weeks.
“That’s something we need to work on,” Maholcic said.
Serrano took the early lead, 8-0 on a three-yard run by Bradford and
a botched extra-point that ended in a two-point conversion run.