MONROVIA 35, WHITTIER CHRISTIAN 32
It was sloppy, but Monrovia High School will take it.
The top-seeded Wildcats were hurt by penalties and had to rally in the second half to escape with a 35-32 victory over Whittier Christian on Saturday night in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs.
Monrovia (13-0) will make its eighth finals appearance in school history next Saturday when it faces No. 2 seed San Dimas (12-1) at a site to be determined. The Saints are hoping to avenge their only loss, a 36-17 defeat to Monrovia in September. At the time, many already thought the game was a preview of the Mid-Valley Division finals, and now they have it.
Whittier Christian (9-4), the No. 3 team out of the Olympic League, put a scare into Monrovia, which twice trailed by 10 points and had a difficult time establishing any offensive rhythm.
Whittier Christian trailed by 11 late in the fourth quarter and got to within three points after Heralds quarterback Stephen Anderson connected on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Grant Escobar and Garrett Fulbright ran in the two-point conversion, but an onside kick was recovered by Monrovia’s Charlie Cimmarusti to all but seal the outcome.
RIO HONDO PREP 24, SALESIAN 14
Under the most improbable scenario, Rio Hondo Prep defeated visiting Salesian 20-14 in their CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division semifinal Saturday.
The defending champs were reduced to using Jake Hanna at quarterback in the second half because the starting quarterback, backup quarterback and junior varsity quarterback all were unavailable.
The Kares (13-0) also repelled multiple Mustangs drives in the second half to hold the lead and advance to next Saturday’s division championship game against Linfield Christian.
Starter Chris Llamas was hurt on a Salesian sack midway through the second quarter and the senior was taken away by ambulance. Backup J.T. Parker was hurt on the Kares’ first defensive series, and JV quarterback Cody Rivera did not dress because of injury, leaving the quarterback duties to Jake Holguin. The freshman orchestrated one unsuccessful drive before Hanna took the final snap of the half on a kneel down.
Before Llamas was hurt, he led the Kares to a 14-0 lead.
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