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JSerra rallies in second half to top Buena Park
BUENA PARK – JSerra gave up an 80-yard touchdown run only five seconds into the game and committed four turnovers, yet still managed to defeat Buena Park, 15-14, on Thursday in a nonleague game at Buena Park High.
The biggest play of the game was an audible by a JSerra senior.
JSerra was trailing, 14-0, in the third quarter when the Lions scored their first touchdown. Lined up for the extra-point kick, JSerra holder Tucker Johnson saw an opportunity, took the snap, got up and passed to his left to sophomore Quentin Longrie for two points to make it 14-8.
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"We just put that play in this week," JSerra coach Jim Hartigan said. "We just told the guy (Johnson), if it's there, throw it. It worked out perfectly, just a great play for us."
On the first play of the fourth quarter, JSerra quarterback Nick Robinson scored on a 5-yard run to tie it at 14-14, and Greg Bucilla's extra-point kick gave the Lions the 15-14 lead they would maintain the rest of the way.
Buena Park's David Cortes later attempted field goals of 50 and 46 yards, but both flew wide of the target.
JSerra, playing without four linemen who were expected to be starters this year, made the spirited second-half comeback to improve to 3-0. Casey Eugenio rushed for 146 yards, 102 of them in the second half.
The Lions' Hunter Braun and DJ Bailey made two crucial tackles in the fourth quarter. Braun's was a sack for a 10-yard loss when Buena Park had first down at the JSerra 36. Bailey took down Buena Park's Jaylinn Hawkins for a 7-yard loss on a third-down play in the fourth.
Buena Park (3-1) was close to getting is biggest nonleague victory in many years. Playing JSerra of the Trinity League was a challenging assignment for a football program that finished 2-8 overall and 0-5 in the Freeway League only three years ago.
Buena Park coach Anthony White said the Coyotes got an education Thursday.
"We learned that we've got to be stronger down the stretch," he said. "Our family's come a long way, but we're not done. We've got a lot of work do to do as a family and as a program."
Buena Park junior running back Deven Boston was averaging 275 yards a game and 14 yards a carry going into the game. He ran for 80 yards for a touchdown on his first carry of the game, for a touchdown, but added only 90 to that over his next 18 carries and finished with 170 yards on 19 carries.
Two of Boston's carries counted for 126 yards.
Buena Park made it 14-0 in the third quarter on a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown by Richie Cabral.
Buena Park's Hawkins made an interception that appeared to end the next JSerra possession, but a roughing the passer penalty gave JSerra first down at the Buena Park 15. A few plays later, Logan Bartlett scored JSerra's first touchdown and Longrie added his two-point conversion.
White was pleased with the Buena Park effort, but said that did not erase the disappointment of the outcome.
"Everybody's proud of where we are now, but we've got to keep working," White said. "If we keep working, we'll get there."
JSerra plays at Dana Hills next Friday. Buena Park has a bye next week, then plays at Westminster on Sept. 28.