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Esperanza beats Brea Olinda with wild finish
BREA OLINDA - Esperanza stopped Brea Olinda on a 2-point conversion with 12 seconds remaining in the game to score a come-from-behind, 21-20 Century League victory and ruin the Wildcats' homecoming Friday night at Brea Olinda High.
The defensive stop capped off a frenetic final three minutes that saw the Aztecs (4-3, 1-2) erase a seven-point deficit with two touchdowns in a span of 22 seconds.
Trailing, 14-7, Esperanza took possession on its 31 and marched 69 yards on 11 plays — the last 10 coming on a touchdown pass from junior quarterback Troy Deluca to Troy Poole. The extra point was good, knotting the score at 14-14 with 2:42 remaining in the game.
Brea Olinda's Derek Anderson returned the ensuing kickoff 44 yards to the Esperanza 40. But on the next play, Esperanza senior cornerback Joey Toma stepped in front of a pass intended for Anderson and raced untouched for a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown.
"I couldn't let (Anderson) get outside. I just jumped on the out route and took it home," said Toma.
However, the Wildcats (3-3, 1-1) were far from done.
With 2:20 left, Brea Olinda took possession at its 22 and proceeded to methodically move upfield on a series of sweep plays to Josh Vizcaya (165 yards on 29 carries) and key completions by junior quarterback Richie Main.
A fourth-down reception by Jason Muehlhoff and an 11-yard catch by Nicky Feamster gave the Wildcats a first down on the Esperanza 5. Two plays later, Main hit Auggie Buoncuore in the front corner of the end zone for a 5-yard score to cut the lead to 21-20.
Century League rules allow for an overtime period, but Wildcats coach Robb Perrance decided to go for the victory. Vizcaya took the hand off on theï€¸ 2-point attempt and dived toward the goal line, only to be upended by a number of Aztec defenders.
"I wanted to win," said Perrance. "(The win) was right there, we just didn't execute."
On the ensuing onside kick, Toma corralled the bouncing ball, sending the Aztec sidelines into celebration mode.
"Whew, what a crazy game," said Aztecs coach Greg Kemp. "This was a must-win for us. We couldn't afford to go 0-3 in league."
Poole led all rushers with 170 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Deluca connected on 11-of-20 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown.