Thursday Final: San Marino’s comeback falls short, 31-21

By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer

GLENDORA – Badly in need of a knockout punch to get rid of pesky San Marino, the San Dimas High School football team turned to fullback Domonic Jollevet.

He did not disappoint.

Jollevet broke away for a 77-yard touchdown run with just under three minutes to play to turn a three-point San Dimas lead into a 31-21 victory over the Titans in the first round of the Mid-Valley Division playoffs at Citrus College on Thursday night.

“I was very nervous when they cut the lead to three,” said Jollevet, who rushed for 216 yards and two scores. “What I decided to do was run hard, and I saw the hole, saw the goal posts and I said `screw the cutback, I’m gonna take it this way.’

“I told everyone on the team that if you put the team on your back, I’ll put the team on my back and hopefully we’ll pull out with this win and keep going.”

The win improved San Dimas to 9-2. The Saints are the division’s No. 3 seed and will face the winner of the Valley Christian-Azusa game, which will be played tonight at Citrus College. San Marino finished 7-4.

Not many fans outside the prestigious 91108 zip code expected the Titans to push San Dimas to the brink. But the Titans got big performances from quarterback Matt Wofford (214 yards passing) and running back Kwame Do, who ran for 122 yards and three touchdowns.

San Dimas twice had double-digit leads, but San Marino wouldn’t go away. After Dillon Corona hit a 24-yard field goal to put San Dimas up 24-14 late in the third quarter, the Titans made their final surge.

Wofford drove his team 80 yards in just under seven minutes and Do finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 24-21 with 3:36 left.

San Marino didn’t attempt an onside kick, instead kicking short and deciding to play defense with two timeouts remaining. But Jollevet took his 14th carry of the night straight up the middle and into the end zone to seal the win.

“They are a good football team,” Saints coach Bill Zernickow of San Marino. “So it wasn’t a surprise so much as it was us not executing and turning the ball over two times in the end zone. Believe it or not, I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss.”

San Dimas helped the Titans stay in the game by twice turning the ball over deep in San Marino territory. In the first half, San Dimas had a pass intercepted in the end zone to kill a drive and in the second half the Saints fumbled the ball into zone to end another. Both plays resulted in touchbacks for San Marino.

“We’re going to do a lot of drills next week to improve that,” Zernickow said. “It’s very uncharacteristic of what we’ve been doing. I can’t remember the last time when we fumbled balls into the end zone and stuff like that.”

San Dimas darted to a 14-0 lead and looked like it may cruise into the second round.

Jake Payton’s 9-yard touchdown started the scoring on San Dimas’ first possession. After getting the ball back, quarterback Shawn Kennedy concluded San Dimas’ second possession by hitting Devante Brown on a 19-yard touchdown pass.

San Marino methodically drove down field and answered with a 2-yard run by Do. The Titans defense held San Dimas on its ensuing possession and the score was soon tied after a 3-yard touchdown by Do.

Jollevet gave San Dimas the lead back for good by taking the third play of the second half 58 yards for a TD and a 21-14 advantage.”Domonic did a great job for us,” Zernickow said. “I think we had 24 plays in the first half for two scores, so we have to get better than that.”

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  • justafan

    when was the last time SM won a playoff game?

  • sikolec

    @justafan

    In 2009, San Marino defeated Rosemead 42-20 in the 1st round of the Mid-Valley playoffs. They lost in the 2nd round to Azusa, 24-27.

  • GrimReaper

    From 1988 to 1995 SM went to the playoffs every year.

    In 1988 they were CIF champions.

    In 1992-1993-1994 they reached the championship game.

    That was when the RHL played up against significantly larger enrollment schools.

    Notable amongst CIF victories were the demolition of a Lompoc squad featuring Napoleon Kaufman and defeat of two powerful Laguna Hills teams.

    Note in 1955 SM gave up 58 points in 13 games and scored 500 points on offense on its way the the school’s first CIF championship in its first year of existence.

  • Mtownclown

    Wishing San Marino GOODLUCK 2night rep the RIO right try too show everyone that the Rio hondo can play ball too!!

  • justafan

    GrimReaper

    interesting info there, I wish that this blog would report that kind of stuff on local schools…SM can be a good football squad if they spent more time in the weightroom, they are a scrawny football team that can’t hit.

  • New York

    GrimReaper,
    I used to respect SM Sports as much as anyone because they seemed to get the most out of their athletes, make clutch performances, and the school seemed to encourage their athletes to play all sports.

    Some factual corrections:
    Yes to CIF Finals in 1992 (lost to LaMirada and QB Moshetti)
    93, 94 I believe were quarterfinal exits. ’94 was a loss to a pretty strong costa mesa who ended up losing to Trabuco Hills in the finals. ’95 was a close first round loss to defending champ Bloomington…
    Are you sure SM actually beat Kaufman? I don’t remember Maloney telling me that, although he did tell me that his game plan was to try to limit production from everyone except Kaufman, recognizing that shutting him down entirely would not happen…
    I watched the ’95 season opener at SMHS vs Covina. Covina won 28-7 and went on to a 14-0 season and D7 championship victory, finally beating their playoff nemesis at the time, Lompoc! At that time, the RHL was D8 with LaMirada, Temescal Canyon (champs that year), Bloomington, Aliso Niguel. Sierra Vista made it to the semis that year by beating Aliso Niguel in the quarters! The next year Aliso went 14-0.

  • titan sports fan

    Tie game at half 14-14 …. were in this!! SM stalled on a deep drive into the red zone or just outside it at the end of the half following a SD interception in the endzone! …. the weight program keeps improving at sm and we hit just fine just lack ideal size …. hopefully that will change with hard work

  • Rankings, preseason, and Peaking…..

    Be Careful believing in the rankings, preseason wins, etc…two hours ago San Dimas was all that, they beat monrovia, Pomona, Etc…etc…Tonight showed that you better not overlook any one…I watched the game, I’ll tell you right now, San Dimas will be a underdog against Arroyo and maybe Cerritos valley too!.. They will not be able to contain Rivera and Arroyo’s passing attack. Seriously, San Dimas is in trouble…another game like that they will be at home. The important thing is that they won…and that’s all you care about. However, we may want to slow down, and re-evaluate, who the powers are in the Midvalley…San Marino had their chances, and they did not execute at the end. Tough lost, but I am not sure the Rio Hondo is as weak as people are saying…too bad No one will see how good south Pas is…Well Tomorrow we continue.

  • RHL Fan

    Rankings, I was at the game too. I don’t think it was that San Dimas played bad, it was that SM is better than advertised. The Titans played their hearts out and lost to a good San Dimas team. They really repped the Rio Hondo and they will be a force to be reckoned with next year.

  • GrimReaper

    New York,

    Yes I believe it was the year Kaufman was a freshman or a sophomore. He was young and all world. He came into the game that year with some sort of gaudy thousands of yds of rushing and some ridiculous yds per carry.

    SM beat Lompoc that year. I was there.

    However we played Lompoc at least once or twice more when Kaufman was there @ Lompoc and got stuffed badly. I cant say as I miss those long rides up to Lompoc and or Paso Robles. We would drive hours and get beat into the stone age by those huge programs.

    The wins and competitive games with Orange county foes Laguna Hills, Trabuco Canyon and Costa Mesa were pretty much the high water mark since the teams of 1955 to 1958 that may have been amongst the best in any level of CIF, big or small school. The coach Vic Swenik (spelling?) I believe went on to be an NFL coach (Rams?)

    But that is water under the bridge long past and gone to sea.

    But tonight SM played a very competitive game. San Dimas was just a little better tonight. With one less SM turnover, it could just as easily have been SM that won. The SM O line was dominant over SD and established the run and allowed time to throw deep on occasion. SM went all in to stop the run, that worked to keep SD down. SD D line is not that big, not even near the class of Monrovia. But the SD running back Jolliet broke some big runs on quick hitters that broke. SM was overplaying the run sometimes, and when Jolliet broke past the linebackers, he was gone on some huge runs. That was the difference.

    Two critical plays helped SM, an SM interception in the end zone and an SD fumble into the end zone recovered by SM. Those were huge breaks for SM.

    A Wofford fumble with about 10:00 to go in the 4th quarter at the SD 30 with SM driving to cut the lead to three hurt. Also a nicked up Gott who sustained an injury in the 1st half, fumbled deep in SM territory hurt also. Gott played hard and well but was obviously hurting in the 2nd half.

    Conventional Wisdom prevailed and SD won, but only by the smallest of margins. One must question if the Valle Vista league and or SD is not overrated. Based on what I saw, Monrovia now needs to be given the benefit of the doubt and potentially the Whittier Christian Game looks to be the actual CIF championship game (if I be so bold as to project)

    Kudos to Breaker and MHS grad and others that called for a SM upset, they were a lot closer than anyone including myself gave them credit. They were very nearly correct.

    So much for the 2 minute drills, they totally missed this one.

  • GrimReaper

    aside to NY
    The year SM beat Lompoc, Kaufman was held to under 100 yds rushing in that game. The subsequent years he got huge yds.

  • Titan Sports Fan

    Man that was a tough game to swallow! SM showed great heart and got great effort across the board from everyone. Certainly had our chances but 3 turnovers and untimely penalties did us in. Now SD can say the same thing they had two turnovers in the red zone and some untimely penalties as well. Simply put they executed down the stretch more effectively than we did. We again struggled to finish off a game. Our youth showed a bit at the end again.

    Shout out to our seniors! You all played with great passion and heart and left the program in better shape than it was when you came in as freshmen. You surpassed many peoples expectations for your class and thats due to the hard work and commitment you put in!

    TO returning titan football players juniors and Sophmores and Freshmen:

    Juniors and sophmores this game should leave a bitter bitter taste in your mouth all we had to do was reach out and grab it we were on the cusp of something great …. you have an opportunity to do great things next year but its not going to be handed to you. Remember this feeling!! And how much it sucks and develop that hatred for losing! And ask yourself How do you want to be remembered? I hope you leave no doubt this off season!

    Leaders in each class need to step up and hold people accountable. Juniors understand your classmates below you at the lower levels have to go to war with you and its to your benefit to push them to be great and set the standard for years to come!!

  • coltfan97

    GrimReaper,

    Your Underestimated Covina, which is fine with me!!!! Remember Covina crushed San Dimas!!! The S.D/S.M game could have been a fluke just like the S.D./Monrovia game during the season could have been a fluke!!!! We won’t know this until next week!!!! All I know this S.D. needs to prepare better!!!!! By the way good luck tomorrow night!!!

    By the way, I was on the sidelines for that Covina-Lompoc Championship game!!!!!

  • bigfatfan

    Nice effort last night SM. you made the RHL proud.

  • 6power

    Titans

    Few people gave you a legitimate shot at winning – you were seen as a stepping stone.

    Bottom line SM played good football this year. The blue and white seem to have it together in philosophy and leadership and are building their players within the system. I only wish this scenario was mirrored at the school I support. Great job San Marino.

    And no, despite having the MV champ and So Pas and SM upping their games….the RHL is still viewed as weak. That stigma will take some time to break – and who really gives a SH@*$ what they think anyway.

  • SaintsR4real

    Congratulations to San Marino for bringing a very good, smart, tough football game to us. Our players had nothing but good things to say about you. No excuses, you guys brought it and will continue to get better if you stick to your program and bright coaching.

    Others: Nothings changed, the Saints keep marching on. BTW, were a few changes that effected our performance (not to take away from SM).

    Best of luck to Azusa, you guys need to keep it going, you deserve it!!

    SAINTS NATION LIVES ON!!!!

  • Breaker87

    “Missed by that much!” Titans came close but fell short. I hope our young men now see that they belong at the dance and will commit to improving in the off-season. We return a boatload of juniors and sophomores next year and this experience coupled with dedication could result in a very fruitful run next year. I feel confident that we will successfully compete for the RHL championship next year (yes really). We have an excellent coach that will quickly become well known and feared as someone who shows up with well prepared teams who don’t back down from anyone. If So Pas (and ???) continues its upward track the RHL will be seen as one of the strongest leagues in the MVD.

  • GrimReaper

    Aram said on Star News preps:
    “Badly in need of a knockout punch to get rid of pesky San Marino, the San Dimas High School football team turned to fullback Domonic Jollevet.”

    Pesky?

    Come on Aram.
    Mosquitoes and flies are pesky.
    Generally insignificant annoyances that are swatted off by little effort.

    SM played far above expectations and SD played below billing. If anything SD was pesky, looking at the relative size of the two teams, SM was bigger and generally controlled the line of scrimmage. If not for fleet Jollevet quick openers that broke big, due to his footspeed. Ultimately the difference was a trick play double reverse-pass play.

    I dont think you need to pull that deep out of the playbook to dispense with a “pesky” nuisance.

    Admit it you are a east valley homer. Homer, if you remember, a term you pulled out on Miguel re the Alhambra La Puente playoff drill video.

    With SD failing to establish ball control, and winning on long plays rather than dominance, defending champ Monrovia looks primed to roll and put the Midvalley championship where it belongs in the West Valley.

  • titan sports fan

    Agree with grim pesky perhaps wasnt the right word because this game was a battle for SD one there lucky to have escaped….. the trick play though double reverse pass was great call in the situation but turned out not to be the difference because SD proceeded to turn the ball over on a fumble in the end zone! …. but having seen Mtown recently and SD last night Mtown should roll them if they meet in the finals but i dont think SD gets there past arroyo maybee not past the next round either but theres a reason the games are played and maybe SD will surprise me….. will make the loss sting a bit more cuz it means we were right there!

  • http://www.insidesocal.com/sgvfootball Aram Tolegian

    Pesky = annoying and bothersome. That’s what SM was to SD. They wouldn’t go away despite being down double figures TWICE. I would say that makes them pesky.

    Anyway, don’t recall SM ever stopping Kaufman. Only year I remember SM playing Lompoc was 1990 and Nap ran wild at SMHS. In 89, Temple City played Lompoc up there and I went to that, and Nap did well. In ’88, I was at all four of SM’s playoff games and none came against Lompoc.