Sequoia rallies for a tie

20 09 2010

Back on the sidelines last week for a pre-season match-up between Pinole Valley and Sequoia.

For the record, I think Sequoia is a little undersized at the skill positions, except for quarterback, where this kid, James Beekley, is going to tear up the PAL Lake Division because he can do what few QBs in that league can: deliver a good pass. If Langi can keep catching the ball, and Flores can help protect Beekley, I think the kid can have a monster year. I’d love to see what he does in his senior season … HE’S ONLY A JUNIOR. Kid is a stud.

Anyway, the game got exciting in the second half. Too bad it was a tie. Read the story online here. The picture below is by Andrew Schineder of the Daily Journal.

Down 14-0, Sequoia rallies for tie
By Julio Lara, Daily Journal Staff

The Sequoia High football team was mere inches away from running its record to 3-0 and completing an impressive second-half comeback against visiting Pinole Valley on Friday night.

But when Matt Jenkins’ field goal attempt sailed just outside the right post with 1:42 left in the fourth quarter, the Cherokees were left between a rock and a hard place, with a glass half full and half empty, with that taste that comes from kissing your sister.

Last night’s affair with the Spartans ended in a 28-28 tie and while it means Sequoia stays undefeated in the young season, the Cherokees (2-0-1) have to be feeling like they let one slip away.

“The critical part was that we were in a position to win at the end of game,” said Sequoia head coach Rob Poulos. “But the ‘W’ would have been nice.”

The win would have capped off a second half that saw Sequoia score on huge plays offensively, led by the arm of junior James Beekley, the feet of Isaias Flores and the hands of senior receiver Will Langi.

While they fell short of a victory, the Cherokees sent a message to the rest of the league — when you play Sequoia you better bring your A game defensively because it can light up a scoreboard quickly.

The four Cherokee touchdowns were all produced in the second half, after they had fallen behind 14-0 to the Spartans in the game’s first 24 minutes.

Pinole Valley’s first score came after Sequoia turned the ball over on a muff punt by Haloti Lauese on the game’s first drive. The Spartans recovered the mistake at the Cherokee 27-yard line and four plays later found the end zone on a jump ball turned touchdown by Nehemiah Winston, who beat Lauese for the 7-0 lead.

Sequoia seemed overwhelmed by a quick and strong Pinole Valley team and that frustration showed throughout the first half. The Cherokees only managed 40 yards of offense and with 2:38 left they gift-wrapped another touchdown for the Spartans.

On this occasion, after an excellent Pinole Valley punt that pinned the Cherokees on the 1-yard line and a 4-yard sneak by Beekley, Sequoia fumbled again, setting the Spartans up with first and goal from the Sequoia 3-yard line. Three dives later and the visitors had a 14-0 lead.

“We didn’t handle the pressure,” said Beekley of his team’s first-half performance. “They were big, fast and strong and we weren’t used to that. (But) we knew what we had to do. We knew we could play with these guys.”

Sequoia seized the momentum right out of the gate in the second half. Beekley came out firing, connecting on a 14-yard pass to Brandon Gibson on the first play and then hooking up with Langi on a 50-yard touchdown to cut the deficit in half less than a minute into the quarter. Langi was phenomenal, taking a short wide receiver screen, looping around toward the left sideline and streaking down it, breaking a tackle along the way for the score.

The Spartans responded by running the football right at the Cherokees — they took six minutes off the clock with an 11-play drive that put them up 14 again on a 4-yard run by Carvonte Hill.

Sequoia answered on the ensuing kickoff with a 53-yard return by Lauese to the Pinole Valley 44-yard line — tack on a personal foul penalty and Sequoia was in business at the Spartans’ 29.

Beekley went for glory on the following play, hooking up with — who else? — Langi, on the 29-yard seam route to cut the deficit back to a touchdown. The senior receiver who spent most of his junior season blocking for a run-oriented Sequoia team last season, has five touchdowns in his last two games.

Sequoia wasn’t done in the third quarter. Before the horn blew Isaias Flores found the end zone on a 4-yard touchdown to knot things up at 21. It was the first of Flores’ two scores in the game — the second of which couldn’t have come at a bigger time for Sequoia.

It took the Spartans three minutes to gain the lead back from the home team when Hill scored his second touchdown of the game, going right into the middle of the line for another 4-yard score.

But Sequoia’s offense would not be denied. Four plays later and Flores answered with a bruising 30-yard touchdown run to tie things up again — taking the ball between the tackles, cutting to the outside after he had broken through the line and disposing of a couple of defenders as he trekked his way into the end zone.

But that is where things went from awesome to disappointing for Sequoia. After exchanging drives the Cherokee earned the big break they needed. Evan Salmeron fumbled the football with 2:09 left in the game at the Pinole Valley 17-yard line. One play later, Langi was interfered with on a fade route and Sequoia was set up first-and-goal from the Spartans’ 8-yard line.

Beekley misfired on his next three attempts, setting up a 27-yard field goal attempt with 1:42 left in the game.

A bad snap produced a spotty hold for Jenkins, who pushed the ball slightly right and just like that, Sequoia missed their opportunity at completing the comeback.

The Cherokees defense held on the ensuing drive, leaving the game at a 28-28 tie when the final horn sounded.

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