Covina football punches tickets to semifinals for first time since 2011

Even when Covina looked comfortably ahead, you knew Westminster and its high-powered offense was capable of making a run —  and it did — but the Colts had enough in the tank to fend off every rally.

Covina got another big performance from quarterback Nin Burns II, who threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown, and defeated Westminster 42-28 in a CIF Southern Section Division 11 quarterfinal Thursday night at Covina District Field.

Covina (10-2) advances to the semifinals for the first time since 2011 and will await the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal between top seed Culver City (10-1) and Coachella Valley (9-2).

Covina opened the fourth quarter with Burns completing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Tristan Sprague to push the Colts’ lead to 14 points after Westminster (9-3) had scored 21 consecutive points to pull within a touchdown.

The Lions answered back on the ensuing drive, scoring on Christian Jaime’s 2-yard touchdown to cut the Colts’ lead to 35-28 with 7:37 to go.

But Burns answered back again, throwing a 40-yard touchdown pass to Danny Urrea with 5:42 left to go back up 14 points and that iced it.

“They made us work, absolutely,” Covina coach Joe Brown said. “We got off to this great start and thought we were rolling, then they came back. But our kids stepped up when we needed to and (Burns) was the difference maker for us. He put things in his hands and even called his own play and hit Urrea for a touchdown to close it out.”

Urrea hauled in nine passes for 121 yards and a touchdown and Sprague had seven receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown.

Westminster quarterback Noah Melbon had a solid night, throwing for 217 yards and two touchdowns, and Jaime rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

But the Lions fell down 28-0 and were chasing the Colts the rest of the night.

“Kids showed some heart and it’s going to eat at us forever,” Westminster coach Ted McMillen said. “We gave them three touchdowns, literally gave it to them. But our kids showed some heart to battle back so I’m proud of them. But it was a tough one to take.”

The first half was wild as Covina raced to a four-touchdown lead only to watch Westminster cut it in half by the break.

Even though Covina dominated the opening quarter, it didn’t get rewarded until Ailaoa Tauvao’s fourth-down run, hustling in from a yard to give the Colts a 7-0 lead with 2:13 to go in the quarter.

The Colts doubled the lead when Burns, who was just trying to get a first down on third-and-short, got outside and found a lane down the right side for a 68-yard touchdown and 14-0 lead.

Westminster was putting its best drive together and was getting ready to score when it fumbled the snap and Jacob Gregory recovered for the Colts.

Covina turned it into points a couple plays later when Burns found Sprague wide open down the left sideline for 55-yard touchdown and 21-0 lead halfway through the second quarter.

Things started really going bad for Westminster when Jaime had the ball stripped out of his hands by Gregory, who simply ran the other way untouched for a 62-yard touchdown and 28-0 lead.

But Westminster closed the half with two quick touchdowns.

After Melbon’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Malachi Mesa, the Lions got it back when the Colts coughed up the ball on the ensuing kickoff at their own 32.

The Lions made them pay. On fourth-and-8, Melbon dropped a perfect pass to the corner for Joel Navarro, who got a foot inbounds for the touchdown to cut the Colts’ lead to 28-14 with 1:40 to go until half.

Westminster made it 21 unanswered points on the opening drive of the third quarter when Jaime scored on a five yard run to cut the Colts’ lead to 28-21, but that’s as close as it would get.

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