San Juan Hills Brady Bjorkman (3) can't get free from Great Oak's Chad Kanow (9) during the game at Great Oak High School in Temecula Friday, Sept. 30, 2016.

San Juan Hills pulls together, rallies to victory


TEMECULA – While Great Oak of Temecula made big first-half plays to seemingly win the game, San Juan Hills made its share of big plays when it mattered most.

The result was a 24-21 overtime win for the visiting Stallions on Friday night in the final tune-up before league play begins for both teams next week.

San Juan Hills (5-1) scored a touchdown and 2-point conversion with 1:33 left in the game, then converted a 24-yard field goal in the first overtime drive. Those key plays down the stretch came after the Stallions defense held strong all night.

“Our defense all year has played well enough to keep us in games,” San Juan Hills coach Aaron Flowers said. “The defense kept us in it, and then finally in the second half, we stopped feeling sorry for ourselves and it was like, hey, we can do this and it just started rolling.”

As it has done all season, Great Oak (2-3) got huge plays from its defense and special teams. Senior wide receiver Jeremiah Ruger took the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. The Wolfpack converted the 2-point attempt for an early 8-0 lead. Later in the opening quarter, junior defensive back Danny Morales picked off Stallions quarterback Matt Rodriguez and returned it 55 yards for a pick-six.

Down 15-0 at the half, the Stallions crawled back behind Brock Cazel's two 5-yard touchdown runs and then tied it when Rodriguez found Cayden McCluskey (10 catches for 127 yards) for a 10-yard touchdown catch. Rodriguez hooked up with Jacob Huff for the 2-point conversion.

“We had to get out of our own heads (at halftime),” said Rodriguez completed 26 of 45 passes for 263 yards.

“When things like that happen, you have to stay up the whole time. We’re a sound football team. We have a great defense. We just have to keep doing what we're doing out there.”

The Stallions clearly had the momentum heading into overtime. Jack Montgomery converted his 24-yard field goal while Great Oak kicker Ryan Richter's 37-yard attempt fell just short.

“We made some plays,” Robinson said. “We just have to continue to get better.”

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