Servite rallies to edge Rancho Cucamonga
ONTARIO - With just under seven minutes remaining in the second quarter of Saturday’s nonleague game against Rancho Cucamonga, Servite’s spirited student section started the oft-repeated, “I believe that we will win!” chant.
Peculiar at the time, mostly because the Cougars had just struck for a 90-yard touchdown pass to extend their lead to 20 points, but the 100 or so loyal students who made the trek to Ontario were absolutely right.
Servite (1-1) overcame that 20-point deficit with 14 consecutived points in the fourth quarter and edged Rancho Cucamonga, 24-23, at Colony High.
“Our kids learned a valuable lesson last week (a 40-23 loss to Bishop Amat) and came up huge tonight,” Servite coach Troy Thomas said. “Things weren’t great, especially early on, but we kept in there.”
Quarterback Neil Pauu led Servite with 83 yards rushing, and halfback Andrew Moore punched in a pair of scores from 5 yards out as the Friars avoided their first 0-2 start since the 2004 season.
“We have to get better every week, especially being in the Trinity League,” Thomas said. “That’s why we play the teams we do in the preseason ... We have four games to go before it starts to get real.
“We have a long way to go, but we feel real good right now.”
Trailing by 13 after intermission, Servite’s defense held Rancho Cucamonga (1-1) to one first down and 25 yards in two third-quarter possessions.
“We have a tradition of playing physical,” Thomas said. “We were disappointed last week at the way we played, and our guys really responded.”
After a Friars interception early in the fourth quarter gave the hosts possession deep in their own territory, a forced fumble in the backfield was scooped by Joel Foy and returned 1 yard for a Servite score.
Servite’s defense forced another fumble three drives later, one that was picked up and returned 58 yards to Rancho Cucamonga’s 5-yard line by Daniel Kleeh.
Trailing by six points, Moore barreled his way into the end zone on the initial handoff to give the visitors a one-point lead.
“This was a huge win for this group of guys,” Thomas said. “If they can start believing in themselves, they’ll be real good.”