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Prep's late drive sinks Bell-Jeff

FOOTBALL: Guards fall, 21-14, on the road to the Rebels for first loss of the season.

September 19, 2007|By Gabriel Rizk

PASADENA — Six or seven plays into Flintridge Prep’s 14-play game- winning fourth-quarter drive Saturday at Maranatha High, the Bellarmine- Jefferson football team had to know what was coming.

Whether it was a quick sweep to the right side by speedy tailback Joel Bryant for a few yards or a bursting run up the middle by Ian Sander or Adam Ross for a couple more, the Rebels kept it simple if not predictable.

The Rebels passed just six times in the game, and not once in the final period.

But, Prep, starting from its own 12-yard line less than one minute into the fourth quarter, continued to nickel and dime its way to first downs, until Bryant’s 17-yard touchdown run with 2:27 remaining effectively sealed a 21-14 win against the exhausted Guards.

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“At [the beginning of the fourth quarter], I felt that we needed to get the momentum back on our side — we just had to tough it out, move the ball down the field and score,” said Bryant, who carried the ball nine times for 59 yards and a pair of touchdowns. “We don’t have a lot of run plays, but we try to perfect those run plays so that teams can’t stop it. That’s what we do, just keep moving down the field and tire them out.”

On a sweltering hot afternoon atop the field turf at Maranatha, that’s indeed exactly what the Rebels (2-0) did.

They used the running game to eat up clock and extended their possessions by converting on critical third-and-long plays, as they did on a third-and-eight situation midway through the final drive.

“They knew it was going to come down to who had the ball last, and that’s what it came down to,” Bell-Jeff Coach Rolando Aguirre said. “There were a couple of key possessions where they had third down and seven or eight to go and they made it. We stop them there and it’s a different story.”

It might also have been a different outcome if the Guards had been able to unleash the full force of their own run-based offense, centered around All-CIF running back Jorge Chaidez.

The senior standout found ways to leave his mark, returning the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and halting a third quarter Rebels drive with an interception while playing free safety. Out of the backfield, however, Chaidez, who rushed for more than 200 yards a week ago at Mountain View, was neutralized for most of the game.

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