John T. Griffith 5:14 p.m., May 22
Olivares hits last-second field goal as Golden Eagles tie Titans
POWAY – San Pasqual and Poway began Friday night undefeated – and both ended it that way. San Pasqual kicker Eric Olivares made a 39-yard field goal as time expired, and the ninth-ranked Golden Eagles erased a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to tie fourth-ranked Poway 17-17.
“We wanted this more than anything in the world and our boys worked their butts off from first whistle to final whistle,” Olivares said. “We never give up and that’s what’s special about this team.”
Olivares split the uprights to cap a San Pasqual (3-0-1) drive that started on its own 25-yard line with 1:14 left in the game. Though the Golden Eagles run the option, they were able to move the ball through the air against Poway (3-0-1) on the game-tying drive.
“Our offensive line gave me time and our receivers made great plays,” said San Pasqual quarterback Tyler Tony. “We (throw) every day in practice but the way our offense is designed, we’d rather do it on the ground.”
As time ticked away and San Pasqual marched down the field, Olivares had a feeling the game would come down to him. The first-year football player recruited from the soccer team during the offseason wasn’t scared of the opportunity.
“There was a lot of adrenaline going through my body. I was definitely nervous, but I focused and I got it done,” Olivares said. “My team put me in a good position and I finished.”
Though both teams ended up even, the game appeared to be in Poway’s control midway through the fourth quarter. With 5:41 left in the game, quarterback Conor Flanagan scored on a one-yard keeper to give the Titans a 17-7 lead, capping a seven-minute drive that featured a heavy dose of inside running.
“They controlled the clock so much with their running game that it was hard to get a rhythm going (offensively),” said Poway head coach Damian Gonzalez. “Finally, we established something and that was nice.”
San Pasqual responded with a touchdown on the ensuing drive – a Tony 26-yard pass to Mackenzie Hines – to make it a three-point game with 2:42 remaining. The Golden Eagles unsuccessfully attempted an onside kick, but were able to stop Poway to get the ball back with just more than a minute left.
“The credit can’t all be given to the offense,” Tony said. “The defense rallied and made a great stop.”
Poway had a 10-0 lead less than eight minutes into the game courtesy of its special teams. Titans kicker Jason Diaz made a 38-yard field goal on the game’s opening drive and after stopping San Pasqual on the next drive, Poway linebacker Ryan Moreno blocked the Eagles’ punt and returned it four yards for a touchdown.
San Pasqual made it a 10-7 game late in the second quarter with a methodical six-minute scoring drive capped by a Tony three-yard touchdown run. After a third quarter where both teams turned the ball over and San Pasqual missed a field goal, Poway still led 10-7 headed into the final quarter.
“We had the opportunity to close out the game and we didn’t do that. That was tough,” Gonzalez said.
Poway was playing without injured quarterback Gabriel Isaak and running back Evan Gray. Flanagan filled in at quarterback for the Titans.
“I thought he did well. It’s a tough situation – he’s the starting receiver and you move him to quarterback. He did what we asked him to and he did a great job,” Gonzalez said.
After the game, San Pasqual appeared to be the happier of the tied teams. Tony described the 17-17 result as bittersweet.
“We made so many mistakes, especially in the first half, and if we want to be a playoff team we need to clean up those mistakes,” Tony said. “But at the same time, you cannot complain with such a team-oriented comeback like this.”
Poway didn’t trail at any point in the game, but the Titans’ inability to close out San Pasqual made the game feel more like a loss. Gonzalez said it will be a learning experience for Poway.
“We didn’t expect a tie,” Gonzalez said. “We expect to win and you can see the difference in how excited they were after the game.”
Pictured: Poway quarterback Conor Flanagan surveys the San Pasqual defense