After the touchdown, which brought Bell-Jeff (2-3) within 49-48, Guards Coach David Machuca burned his team’s final timeout, knowing what was coming next.
“I told my team that we’ve been working on an inside zone [play] since January,” Machuca said. “I said we’re going with the play we’ve worked on since I got here and that’s what we did.”
On the play, Poly blitzed with defenders streaming through both A gaps. Yet, while two players had an opportunity at Martinez, the Guards’ back broke through two tackles in crashing over the line of scrimmage for the game-winning two-point conversion.
The touchdown and conversion erased Poly’s lead, which was 49-42 after the Panthers (4-1), ranked fifth in the CIF Southern Section Northeast Division, scored on an 11-yard touchdown run from Jake Zelek (21 carries for 174 yards and two touchdowns) secured on a brilliant block from running back Griffin Carter (12 carries for 138 yards and two touchdowns) on Bell-Jeff’s DeVaughn Roberts.
“I didn’t feel comfortable with 2:12 left because we hadn’t shown an ability to stop them all game,” Poly Coach Brendan McGrail said. “We knew how much they could score and this is a tough one.”
Bell-Jeff scored two touchdowns before Martinez’s thriller, one score coming on a 10-yard run from quarterback Jonathan Porter (11 for 23 for 235 yards and one touchdown) and the other one a seven-yard run from Martinez that tied the game at 42, thanks in part to a missed two-point conversion with seven minutes left in the game.
In a defense-optional first half, the Panthers took a 35-30 advantage.
About the only defensive play worth noting came from Poly senior defensive back Curtis Toyota, who returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown with 6:23 in the second quarter.
The score put the Panthers up, 28-16, and was the second touchdown for Poly in a 10-second span as quarterback Nolan Mulligan scored on an eight-yard keeper.
Yet, Bell-Jeff countered with a one-yard plunge from Roberts. His score was followed on the Panthers' next possession with a 23-yard touchdown run from Carter, who also scored earlier in the game on a seven-yard carry.
The touchdown put Poly ahead, 35-24, with 2:34 left.
There was enough time, however, for one final punch from Martinez, who scored with six seconds left on a seven-yard toss from Porter to bring the Guards within single digits.
Poly's Alex Pinon opened with a 70-yard kick return for a score 17 seconds into the game.