Above: Vailele Peko, only a sophomore, showed some flashes in Alhambra’s 14-10, victory over Temple City on Friday night at Moor Field.
Where to begin.
This was a game Temple City should have come away with a victory. But Alhambra ruined those plans as it initiated a six-play, 64-yard drive that was capped by a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Darrian Cazarin to Daniel Imaa to give the Moors a 14-10 victory over the Rams.
It was Imaa’s only catch of the game.
Temple City (1-1) had a chance to make a long drive of their own but on the first play — with the ball on the Moors 28 — Temple City quarterback Morgan Hatch was intercepted by Mitchell Crockom to put the game away.
Crockom was at the center of attention of just about every key play. Crockom made an amazing 32-yard completion to put the ball at the Rams 2. Many thought Joey Stewart came away with the interception but it was Crockom who lifted the ball in the air to complete the pass, much to the dismay of the visiting Temple City crowd.
Crockom also made a huge 47-yard catch that highlighted that 64-yard drive. And it was Crockom who came up with the interception that sent the Moors crowd into a frenzy.
I remember telling myself before Crockom made that 47-yard catch: I am not impressed with him at all. At that point, Crockom had made completions of 29, 32, 8, 16, 14, and 2.
Decent night, I thought, but still not impressed given Crockom has enough talent to carry the Moors this season.
Then he made that big catch and of course the interception. I stand corrected.
The Rams passing game suffered big against the Moors, who really weren’t doing anything fancy to hinder Temple City’s passing game. The key was that a lot of Hatch’s passes were dropped.
Stewart had a big night rushing for 143 yards on 24 carries. He made some big plays and was the key player who kept a 16-play drive alive in the second quarter.
Stewart rushed for a 2-yard score on that drive but it was called back after an illegal formation penalty moved the ball back to the Alhambra 7. The Rams couldn’t come up with anything at that point except for a safety after the Moors were forced to punt from their end zone.
Temple City took a 10-7 lead after Stewart’s score from 4 yards out. Quarterback Morgan Hatch connected with Kenny Werner for the two-point conversion.
The Rams had the lead for 10 minutes before the Moors initiated the rally with 3:04 left in the game and Alhambra sitting on its 36.
What a turn of events. Alhambra coach Gil Ruedaflores and Temple City coach Randy Backus were laughing it up and joking around when they greeted each other at the 50-yard line with 12 minutes before the game started.
When both coaches met again at the 50-yard line to shake hands, Backus’ mood was more somber for obvious reasons. Backus was visibly upset and not even Ruedaflores saying “We were lucky to win it” cheered him up.
How could it?
Temple City had this game in the bag. Despite some big yardage plays in the first half, Crockom was kept on check especially in the first half.
“We didn’t handle success very well the entire week,” Backus said. “We had a poor week for preparation for Alhambra and it was reflected tonight.
“Too many blown assignments and too many missed assignments. Not taking the opportunities that were presented to us to win this game.”
Despite the offense getting off to a slow start in the first half, it was a clean game. There were not turnovers and the penalties were minimal, except (ahem) for that illegal formation penalty on the Rams.
Backus didn’t want to get into that penalty which he noted was called well into Stewart’s rush into the end zone.
“The guy’s in the end zone and the flag comes five seconds after the guy’s in the end zone, saying we didn’t have enough guys in the line of scrimmage,” Backus said. “I’m not gonna say anything about the officiating.”
The Rams visit San Gabriel next week but Backus is more concerned about his team than he is of the Matadors.
“It’s not about San Gabriel,” he said. “It’s about us getting better. Like I said we had a poor poor week. We were horrible in practice and it reflected in the game.”
Ruedaflores had nothing but praise for his young defensive line.
“When you teach adversity and you tell these boys not to look back it’s hard because they’re young,” Ruedaflores said. “It’s hard to swallow that (loss last week) but they fought through it, and they came back and I’m proud of them.”
Vailele Peko provided a great highlight-reel for the Moors after he returned a punt 42 yards and into the Rams 28 but the ball was moved way back after Alhambra was called for a holding penalty.
Those are the little things the Moors need to overcome if they are to contend for the Almont League title.
They can’t have those kinds of little mistakes that negates long plays like the one Peko had in the fourth quarter.
That play got the home crowd fired up but the penalty knocked the wind out of the momentum.
But Crockom went on to make a big play followed by Imaa’s touchdown reception from 17 yards out.
The holding penalty at that point became a long forgotten footnote.
Above: Joey Stewart carried Temple City almost the entire game.
If you attended a Friday night game send us your thoughts. Who did you see and what’d you think of the teams you saw?
Here are Friday’s scores with my thoughts
Alhambra 14, Temple City 10 — The Moors make late rally for the win. Backus isn’t so happy for obvious reasons. The passing game just wasn’t there for the Rams on Friday night.
Long Beach Jordan 36, Pasadena 0 — Who’d a thought the Bulldogs would enter Pacific League play depleted at 0-4? Kevin Mills lost some key players from last year’s team but with the kind of depth he’s got a 36-0 loss is almost unbelievable.
Glendale 36, La Canada 21 — This is not the Glendale team of the past. This could be a much longer season than I thought for the Spartans.
San Marino 31, La Salle 16 — Remember the Titans? They’re baaaAAAAAaaaaack!!!!
St. Francis 27, Crescenta Valley 13 — I really wanna go see my No. 1 team.
Muir 33, Venice 14 — As I predict, Mustangs go. Oh wait…D-Ranch. Muir is 2-1 heading into league. That’s a great start on my books. Interesting to read that Reuben Thomas played just receiver. TWO GOOD QBS???? Nice.
Rosemead 42, Monrovia 21 — Who knew the Wildcats would be rebuilding this season? The Panthers have a pretty good offense. I really wanna go see them against Temple City in two weeks. But then again ….
Gabrielino 28, Keppel 0 — Eagles finally put up some points. Aztecs will be hurting by season’s end.
Serra 53, San Gabriel 0 — I saw this coming.
Maranatha 45, Capo Valley Christian 0 — I saw this coming, too.
Bosco Tech 20, Gladstone 0 — This will boost the Tigers’ morale fo sho, right Shockley?
Brentwood 28, Rio Hondo Prep 26 — Ouch! Tough one. If there ever was a moral victory, it is this one. Two-point loss against a tough Brentwood team is not bad at all.
Villanova Prep 32, Flintridge Prep 6 — Rebels having a hard time getting their offense going.
Marshall at Pasadena Poly, 2 p.m. — Melendez (Pasadena Poly); Lair (Pasadena Poly)