Unbelievable atmosphere, unbelievable game. There was so much hype after last year’s fourth-quarter win by the Colts that this couldn’t possibly live up, but it did. Maybe even better. Trailing 20-6 in the fourth quarter, Livingston hooked up with a 70 yard strike over the middle to Vinny Vegas for a touchdown, then after West Covina took a mind-boggling fourth-down sack at the 48 with 1:23 left instead of pooching it away, Livingston threw an “are they doing it again” touchdown to Peter De La Cruz on the very next play, a 52-yard score to tie the game at 20-20 with 1:15 left. But West Covina showed the pride of a champion, answering with Aaron Salgado’s two-yard touchdown in overtime, then getting a stop to get the win, avoiding a second-straight meltdown. Great game, great emotion from both teams, and I found out what I wanted to find out about Covina, that last year’s win was no fluke, not after going toe-to-toe again. Maggiore’s right, Covina and Monrovia are the best bets to meet in the Mid-Valley title game. And we also found out something about West Covina, that the champions intend on defending it, rising to the occasion with the player of the year injured and not able to go. Now that’s how you close a weekend triple-header!
By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
Faced with the possiblity of suffering another heartbreaking loss to Covina, the West Covina High School football team wasn’t about to let history repeat itself.
The Bulldogs withstood a fourth-quarter rally by the Colts to post a 26-20 win in overtime in the season opener for both teams on Saturday night at Covina District Field.
The win avenged last year’s loss, in which West Covina saw Covina rally from a 21-2 fourth-quarter deficit to win 27-21.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs watched as Covina rallied from a 20-6 hole to tie the game at 20-20 with just over a minute to play on a 50-yard touchdown pass by Covina quarterback Billy Livingston to receiver Peter De La Cruz.
Once in overtime, West Covina scored on its first possession on Aaron Salgado’s 2-yard touchdown run. The Bulldogs missed the extra point, though, and left themselves open to the possiblity of another sour defeat. But West Covina’s defense held and sealed the win after Livingston’s fourth-down pass for receiver Justin Mason was ruled incomplete in the back of the end zone. (to continue click thread)
For highlights and interviews of West Covina’s overtime win, check out the Inland Insider’s wrap-up.
“It was one of those games games that it was unfair someone had to lose,” West Covina coach Mike Maggiore said. “I was thinking the fourth quarter was similar to last year. We couldn’t get anything going and they had the momentum. Our guys didn’t quit and I’m proud of them.”
West Covina’s defense held the Colts in check most of the night. But the fourth quarter was another story. Trailing 20-6, Livingston hit Vinny Venegas on a 70-yard touchdown. The Bulldogs had the ball back twice and appeared on their way to running out the clock before being stopped on downs with 1:23 to play. Livingston found De La Cruz for the tying score on the very next play.
“We have a bunch of fighters on our team and when you have a bunch of fighters, you’re disappointed when you don’t come out victorious,” Covina coach Darryl Thomas said. “It was a great atmoshpere for high school football. But we have larger goals than Week 0. We are not going to be defined by one game.”
That West Covina was able to muster much offense was a story in itself. The Bulldogs lost reigning Tribune Player of the Year Chris Solomon to an ankle injury in the first half. Starting quarterback Jonathan Najera then missed the second half due to a head injury. Despite that, the Bulldogs were able to mix run and pass effectively enough to turn a 7-6 lead at halftime into a 13-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Chris Caballero came off the bench to complete 9 of 13 attempts for 170 yards. Running back Jimmy Frazier led the ground game with 11 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown.
“He stepped up and made some big plays,” Maggiore said of Caballero. “We knew we had two guys who can play. We weren’t big on experience, but they’re going to bet the job done.”
Livingston finished 14 of 24 for 233 yards and three touchdowns.
W.Covina 7 0 13 0 6 – 26
Covina 0 6 0 13 0 – 20
WC: Bradley Ojala 20 pass from Jon Najera (kick good)
CO: Justin Moran 20 pass from Billy Livingston (kick failed)
WC: Jimmy Frazer 24 run (kick good)
WC: Aaron Salgado 2 run (kick failed).
CO: Vinny Vegenas 68 pass from Livingston (kick failed)
CO: Peter De La Cruz 52 pass from Livingston (kick good)
WC: Aaron Salgado 2 run (kick failed)
Mike the Cousin’s Live chat on West Covina-Covina.