by Christopher Mohr
December 2, 2010 (Spring Valley) - The Mount Miguel Matadors' 2010 football season came to an end Friday night (11/26) with a 34-10 loss to the Point Loma Pointers. Mount Miguel surrendered a total of seven turnovers in a game where disaster seemed to strike just as momentum appeared to shift in the their favor.
The game was a quarterfinal matchup in the CIF San Diego Section Division III playoffs. The Matadors got off to a quick start on their first drive when Ernest Williams connected with Ernie Castro on a 25 yard touchdown play. The drive took eight plays and covered 80 yards in 2:49.
The Pointers got on the scoreboard when Javon Griffen broke free on a 13 yard touchdown run that tied the score, 7-7. The play was setup by a 59 yard catch and run play from Sean McKaveney to Morris Matthews.
Unfortunately, the game started to unravel for the Matadors when they gave up turnovers on two consecutive drives late in the first quarter. If the mistakes had ended there, Mount Miguel might have been able to stay in this game, since the Pointers failed to convert either turnover to points, but the mistakes did not end there.
The Matadors would give up another fumble in the second quarter and it was costly. The Pointers recovered the ball on Mt. Miguel's 27-yard line and needed only five plays to reach the end zone. McKaveney scored on a one yard run that made the score 14-7.
Another Matador fumble led to yet another Pointers drive that resulted in a one yard touchdown run by McKaveney. The point after attempt failed, but Point Loma was in control at halftime with a 20-7 lead.
The second half began well for the Matadors, and it seemed initially that they might turn the game around. They attempted an onside kick and recovered the ball at the Pointers' 45-yard line. The Matadors' drive stalled, but they came away with three points when Jorge Medina kicked a 35 yard field goal to make the score 20-10.
It seemed as though the Matadors had taken the momentum and built upon it when they moved the ball well on their next drive. Dee'Jay Nolen, who took over for Williams at quarterback, connected with Castro on a pass play that covered 21 yards to the Pointers' 15-yard line.
Whatever momentum the Matadors gained by that play evaporated on the next play when Derrick Dunn fumbled the ball to the Pointers on a running play. Although the Pointers did not convert this turnover into points, the fact that the Matadors missed out on a great scoring opportunity was damaging enough.
The Matadors seemed to have some hope of getting back in the game when Adbilatif Ugas intercepted a pass from McKaveney midway in the fourth quarter. Whatever momentum this play gave the Matadors quickly evaporated when Nolen was sacked for an 11 yard loss, then on the next play threw an interception to Joe Sartuche.
"A lot of hard work went in and they played a defense that we knew we could take advantage of with our athletes. We kind of took this game personal, because we thought we should be the two seed in the playoffs, and we went out there and took out our anger on Mt. Miguel today," said McKaveney about the win. McKaveney missed some games earlier in the season after suffering a fracture to his left (non-throwing) arm.
Point Loma took full advantage of the turnover when McKaveney connceted with Josh Sakover on a 34 yard pass play for a touchdown to give the Pointers a 27-10 lead.
The final turnover was quick and humane. With just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter, Thomas Bell picked off a pass from Nolen in full stride and returned the interception 35 yards for a touchdown to make the final score 34-10.
"I just saw it before it was coming. I just broke on the movement of his arm and made a play for our team," said Bell about his 'pick-six' play.
Protecting the ball is one of the fundamental concepts of winning football. When you lose the ball, at the very least you deprive yourself of a touchdown, at the very worst, the effect becomes a turnaround of 14 points. To turn the ball over seven times in the same game eliminates virtually any chance of winning. Twenty-seven of Point Loma's 34 points came off turnovers. It was too much for the Matadors to overcome, especially in the playoffs.
Mount Miguel's season ends with a record of 8-2-1. The Matadors' football program has become more competitive in recent years, having won eight games in three of the last four seasons.
Point Loma improves to 9-3 with the win and will face the Dons of Cathedral Catholic High School at their home field in Carmel Valley. The winner of this game will face the winner of the St. Augustine-Lincoln semifinal game at Qualcomm Stadium.
"It's good because we want Cathedral," Bell said about the win, "they've been beating us for a couple of years now."
Fans from CCHS and St. Augustine are undoubtedly hoping for an all-Catholic school Division III final. The two teams regularly face one another in a rivalry game each season commonly known as the 'Holy Bowl'. St. Augustine won the latest Holy Bowl game on November 12th by a score of 28-21. The rivalry dates back to the days of University of San Diego High School (which relocated to Carmel Valley and became Cathedral Catholic in 2005).
The only time this rivalry game has not been played was in 2007, when wildfires forced cancellation of all high school sports in the San Diego Section that week. No canceled football games were rescheduled or made up, since the fire occurred so late in the season that most teams no longer had open dates before playoffs would have began.
CCHS has a 6-5 record, but has played well after starting off the season 1-4. Their latest game was a dominating 69-10 playoff win over El Centro Southwest. The Dons frequently face the Pointers in the CIF playoffs, and most recently faced them in the 2009 Division III final, when they defeated Point Loma 20-14 to win the CIF title.
Christopher Mohr is a freelance writer in the San Diego area and is an avid Chargers, Padres and
MM - Castro 25 pass from Williams (Medina kick)
PL - Griffen 13 run (Diaz kick)
PL - McKaveney 1 run (Diaz kick)
PL - McKaveney 1 run (kick failed)
MM - FG Medina 35
PL - Sakover 34 pass from McKaveney (Diaz kick)
PL - Bell 35 interception return (Diaz kick)