San Fernando rallies from a two-score deficit over Roosevelt to advance to CIF Semifinals in a 28-26 thriller


Facing an 18-6 deficit with 8:48 left in the third quarter of the CIF LA City Division II Quarterfinals, the third-seeded San Fernando Tigers were on the brink of a disappointing end to their season on Thursday, November 11, 2023. Their opponent, the eleventh-seeded Roosevelt Rough Riders, were soaring with confidence after their 30-24 road upset win over Wilson.

With their season hanging in the balance on their home field, the Tigers showed resilience in the face of adversity through relying on their power running game that they have relied on all season. After San Fernando came from behind to take the lead in the third quarter, both teams exchanged leads in the fourth quarter before the Tigers defense stopped the Rough Riders on their last drive to secure the 28-26 victory.

The first drive of the game for each team took up the majority of the duration of the first quarter, in which the Tigers forced a turnover on downs, but turned it back over to the Rough Riders with a lost fumble at the Roosevelt 5-yard line in goalline territory. The scoreless output continued well into the second quarter until Roosevelt got on the board with a 30-yard touchdown run from senior Alan Ortiz to go ahead 6-0.

The Tigers answered back on the subsequent drive where senior quarterback Adrian Anguiano threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Isaiah Castro to bring the game to a 6-6 tie. With their offense already in a groove, the Rough Riders regained the lead on the next drive after junior quarterback Manny Madrigal went deep on a 39-yard touchdown bomb to take a 12-6 lead with 1:26 left in the half. Their defense closed the half with their second turnover of the day, forcing an interception from Anguiano.

Roosevelt’s defense carried the momentum from their turnover into the second half, forcing a three-and-out that resulted in the punter being stopped in the backfield on the San Fernando 14-yard line on a fake punt attempt. Ortiz powered in his second rushing touchdown of the night to give the Rough Riders an 18-6 advantage. With their backs up against the wall, the Tigers stayed true to their identity as a running football team, as their ground game jump started the comeback with a 50-yard touchdown run from sophomore running back Melvin Pineda.

With the deficit cut to 18-13, San Fernando’s defense tightened up to force a three-and-out on the following Roosevelt drive. The Tigers offense took their first lead of the night, when Anguiano took it 32 yards into the end zone on a QB keeper to go ahead 21-18 after completing the two-point conversion.

The Tigers took their lead into the fourth quarter where they forced a fumble from the Rough Riders on their next drive, but were unable to come away with points on that possession. Roosevelt regained the lead when senior Esaul Contreras ran it into the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown run to take a 26-21 lead with 5:48 left in the game. With time dwindling, the San Fernando methodically executed their offense with their running game courtesy of senior back Edward Lopez, Pineda, and Anguiano. The Tigers showed their creativity on the offensive end on their game-clinching touchdown when Castro took a reverse handoff and punched in a 25-yard touchdown run to give them a 28-26 lead with 1:51 left in the game.

The game was brought to a 30-minute delay when junior Edgardo Marroquin was seriously injured, but is expected to make a full recovery. When play resumed, the Rough Riders had one last chance to pull off another Cinderella upset, but the Tigers defense stood their ground on their home field forcing a turnover on downs with seven seconds left in the game to seal the win.

San Fernando head coach Charles Burnley referred to the halftime adjustments made on defense as one of the major keys to their comeback. “We decided to just pinch our tackles, as opposed to trying to stop them from driving us.” The Tigers will travel on the road to take on a familiar opponent on Friday, the second-seeded Chatsworth Chancellors at 7:00 pm. “We play Chatsworth every year in our preseason scrimmage game”, states Burnley, “We know pretty much what they’re about.” 

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