The San Dimas High School football team’s season has already been one of the roller-coaster variety. And it’s only one game in.
The Saints lost a 23-point lead but converted a Bonita fumble into the go-ahead touchdown with two minutes remaining in a 37-36 win over their bitter rival Thursday night at Citrus College.
San Dimas running back Jake Payton collected 126 yards and three touchdowns on his first 10 carries, including a 30-yard scoring run on the first play of the second quarter to give the Saints a 23-0 lead.
Jennifer Cappuccio Maher/Staff Photographer
San Dimas junior Jake Payton finished with 180 yards and three TDs on 22 carries in the Saints’ 37-36 win over Bonita.
But Bonita scored on its next five possessions to take a 36-30 lead with 10 minutes left in the game. The San Dimas offense, which outgained Bonita 153 yards to 41 in the first quarter, went stagnant while Bonita heated up, thanks to the trio of quarterback Tanner Diebold, receiver Victor Magallanes and running back Reggie Turner.
Turner caught one touchdown and ran for another, while Diebold connected with Magallanes on scoring passes of 42 and 17 yards.
The Bonita defense had all but taken over the game when the Bearcats stopped San Dimas on fourth-and-1 on the Bearcats 15-yard line protecting a 36-30 lead with 2:53 left in the game.
Bonita fumbled the ball back to the Saints on the next play.
Three plays later San Dimas regained the lead when Andrew Espinoza stretched inside the pylon to complete an 8-yard touchdown run with two minutes to play.
Thanks to the final catch by Magallanes, who finished with five receptions for 116 yards, Bonita attempted a 49-yard field goal with 1:29 left in the game but it came up short.
San Dimas breathed a sigh of relief it never imagined it would have just three quarters earlier.
In fact, the Saints scored even before their first offensive possession, earning a safety on Bonita’s first punt attempt. The snap sailed over the punter’s head and was kicked out of the back of the end zone less than a minute into the game.
San Dimas then proceeded to score touchdowns on its next four possessions, thanks in large part to Payton.
By halftime, however, Bonita had scored three of its five consecutive touchdowns.
The Bearcats got on the board with a 74-yard drive, fueled by a 26-yard catch from Magallanes and finished off with a 15-yard run by Turner.
San Dimas quickly restored its 23-point lead after converting a fourth-and-inches from its own 30-yard line during an 80-yard scoring drive.
Bonita managed a pair of touchdowns in the final 4:36 of the first half, beginning with a 42-yard touchdown reception by Magallanes. The Bearcats had to drive just 29 yards on their next possession after an errant San Dimas punt with 2:25 to play. Turner did the honors with 55 seconds left in the second quarter, taking a swing pass eight yards for a touchdown to cut the San Dimas lead to 30-22.
Bonita didn’t lost any momentum during halftime as the Bearcats converted a San Dimas turnover on downs into a 10-play touchdown drive that was extended by a roughing the kicker penalty on a 37-yard attempt that missed.
Magallanes punctuated the drive with his second touchdown reception of the night.
After San Dimas scored on its first four possessions, Bonita surpassed the feat with its ensuing touchdown that made it five consecutive times the Bearcats found the end zone. Turner left the game with leg cramps during the drive, but Bonita sophomore Angel Verdugo filled in admirably with a four carries for 47 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown plunge with 10:03 to play in the game to give Bonita it’s first lead of the night, 36-30.