This time, Chino Hills would have preferred a tie.
A week after an epic 48-48 tie with La Puente Bishop Amat, the Huskies would have rather made their final field goal attempt and found the end zone on fourth down from the 2-yard line, but neither occurred in a 24-14 loss to Rancho Santa Margarita Tesoro on Friday night.
Chino Hills, the No. 7 in the CIF-SS Inland Division, missed a game-tying 33-yard field goal with 44 seconds left in the third quarter and five plays later found itself trailing by 10. Tesoro (3-0) was carried on the decisive drive by running back Nate Tago, who finished with 227 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries. The senior preceeded a 20-yard scoring run at the 11:45 mark of the fourth quarter with a game-breaking 46-yard scamper.
Trailing by 10, Chino Hills (1-1-1) elected not to kick a field goal on its next possession, rather, go for it on fourth down from the Tesoro 2-yard line only to be stopped short with 10:18 to play. The Huskies turned it over on downs one final time at the Tesoro 32-yard line.
Last season the Huskies lost this matchup 27-3. Hanging with the No. 4 in the Pac-5 Division is evidence this Chino Hills may be a team capable of going deeper in the postseason.
Quarterback Matt Simko completed 22 of 41 passes for 251 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Chino Hills Boise State committed receiver Jack Austin appeared back at full strength after an ankle injury prior to the season, hauling in eight receptions for 112 yards.
But the Huskies didn’t get much help from a running game that totaled 23 yards. Louis Napoles, who scored four touchdowns last week, amassed just 25 yards on 13 carries against a Tesoro defense that entered the game having allowed just 21 points combined the last two weeks.
Tesoro got on the board first when Tago raced 65 yards for the game’s first touchdown with 3:21 remaining in the first quarter.
Simko was intercepted three plays later as his pass sailed over his receiver’s head to Tesoro safety Nick Crouch, who returned it 32 yards to the Chino Hills 20-yard line. Backed up by yet another penalty – Tesoro had 11 penalties for 85 yards – the Titans flawlessly executed a screen pass allowing Tago to go untouched 39 yards for a touchdown to give Tesoro a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Titans missed two field goals in the first half, but connected on a 32-yarder with 7:31 left in the second quarter for a 17-0 lead.
The game was threatening to get out of hand when Chino Hills’ Connor Wilson fumbled as he appeared to convert a fourth-and-3, but four plays later Wilson blocked a Tesoro punt to set Chino Hills up in Titans territory.
The Huskies drove 49 yards for their first touchdown as Louis Napoles took a screen pass 13 yards on third-and-goal to make the score 17-7 with 2:41 remaining in the first half.
Chino Hills’ defense made its own presence known when Eddie Soliz stepped in front of Tesoro’s first pass of the second half and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown to pull within 17-14 at the 10:53 mark of the third quarter.
The Huskies then stopped Tesoro on a fourth-and-1 at their own 2-yard line, recovered a fumbled snap on the Titans’ next possession at the Tesoro 10-yard line. But Chino Hills’ 33-yard field goal attempt that would have tied the game late in the third quarter sailed wide.