Aliso Niguel junior Andre Cotton attempts to pull away from Sonora defenders during a nonleague game at Aliso Niguel High.

Sonora edges Aliso Niguel in nonleague thriller


ALISO VIEJO – Sonora coach Paul Chiotti said before the game he had a hunch Friday’s game would be for the offenses.

He was right and then some, but fortunately for Chiotti, it was his offense that found its way into the end zone with the game on the line.

After allowing the go-ahead score with 2:14 left, Sonora took over on its 20, and led by quarterback Cole McDonald, the Raiders went to work.

Midway through the drive, McDonald hooked up with Steven Riley for 15 yard pass into Aliso Niguel territory and four plays later, the duo hooked up again, this time for a 14-yard touchdown pass that proved to be the winner, giving the Raiders a 47-46 road victory over the Wolverines.

“We told them to be patient early,” Chiotti said. “Take what they give us and try to get some momentum going on our side.

“Ultimately we always talk about players stepping up and making a play. That’s what we saw tonight … hats off to Aliso, they battled their butts off. I don’t know if we’re even deserving to walk out of here with a win tonight, but these kids stepped up and they had an attitude that they wanted to go down and score and they executed.”

That’s what the Wolverines (2-4) did to take a 46-40 lead with 2:14 left behind quarterback Nick Chapman. Chapman, who passed for 440 yards, scored from the 9-yard line to give the Wolverines the lead. The extra point was no good, leaving the door open for the Raiders.

“We knew we had to score, and we knew it was going to be a dog fight,” McDonald said. “We just really emphasized encouragement and positivity because last year I felt like we tore each other down once we started getting down. I wanted to push the guys to keep going, no matter how many we’re down.”

McDonald rushed for 154 yards and passed for 299. Fimbres rushed 147 for the Raiders.

The team combined for 1,133 yards of total offense.

The game had a back-and-forth feel to it all night. In the first half, Aliso Niguel scored on each of its four possessions and Sonora (5-0) scored on three of its four. There were four lead changes.

The second half was just as wild. Aliso Niguel scored on its first play of the half, a 55-yard touchdown pass from Chapman to Andre Cotton, who also had a touchdown pass in the game, for a 26-21 lead.

Sonora caught Aliso Niguel at 26-26 with a 28-yard field goal from Carlos Flores and a safety.

Later, Cotton scored a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs to give Aliso Niguel a 40-32 lead with 6:52 remaining. On the next possession for Sonora, Jacob Fimbres went 56 yards and converted the two-point conversion to tie the score at 40-40 with 6:02 left.

“It was a great fan game,” Aliso Niguel coach Kurt Westling said. “We figured whoever had the ball last would win the game. More power to Sonora. We have to clean up our defense and execute more on offense.”

Aliso Niguel begins Sea View League play next week against Laguna Hills. Sonora opens Freeway League play against city rival La Habra.

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