Eva Knott 7:03 p.m., May 17
EL CAJON – Christian quickly fell behind by three scores against Mission Bay on Saturday night, but wasn’t deterred by the big deficit or the bigger opponent. The host Patriots rallied with 29 unanswered points – including two touchdowns in the fourth quarter — to stun Mission Bay 29-19 at Granite Hills High.
“It was about being resilient – this team never quits,” said Christian sophomore receiver/defensive back Trevor Howell. “It came down to the veterans keeping us motivated and keeping us ready to play – they never let us get down on ourselves.”
Mission Bay (3-2) stormed out of the gates and threatened to turn the game into a blowout from the start. The Buccaneers scored on three straight possessions, the last of which was a 72-yard touchdown run by junior running back James Phillips that made it 19-0.
“We were getting used to them in the first half, and after they scored 19 points we just all had to rally and make plays,” said Christian junior running back/defensive end Zane Coffman. “We had to adjust to their speed and read the plays faster. Once we got that down, that’s when the ball game started.”
In the second quarter, Christian (4-1) showed signs of life and began to rally. After a fumbled punt return set the Patriots up at the Mission Bay 19-yard line, the hosts needed only a few plays to get on the board with a Paris Miller 12-yard touchdown run with 7:01 remaining in the first half.
“We play huge when we’re the underdog. When everyone was doubting us at 19-0, we really started to pick it up and bring it,” Coffman said.
After stopping Mission Bay on the ensuing drive, Christian again cut into the Buccaneers’ lead. Miller broke a carry for a 52-yard score with 2:52 left in the second quarter that put the Patriots behind by five at halftime.
“As soon as we scored that second touchdown we had all the momentum, and I just had a feeling we’d get it,” Howell said.
Mission Bay still held a 19-14 lead after a scoreless third quarter in which both teams missed scoring opportunities. The Buccaneers were driving in Christian territory early in the fourth quarter when Patriots junior linebacker Sebastian Swift intercepted a Nick Plum pass to keep it a one-score game.
“We knew we had the momentum and that we weren’t going to lose the game,” Coffman said. “We knew we were going to win – there was no doubt in my mind.”
On the first play after the turnover, Christian ran a trick play to take its first lead of the game – a double pass. Howell caught a throw from junior quarterback Michael Carrillo behind the line of scrimmage and threw a pass to streaking senior tight end Stephen Johnston for the go-ahead 65-yard score. Miller converted the ensuing two-point try on the ground to put the Patriots ahead 22-19 with 9:16 to play.
“We ran that play through in practice, and it seemed to work every time,” Howell said. “Coach called the play, and I just went out there and tried to do my best – it happened to go our way.
“I was worried, because throughout the week in practice I ran that play without gloves on and I figured if I took my gloves off they would get a hint, so I kept them on and happened to get the throw off. As soon as I let it go, I knew.”
After a Mission Bay turnover on downs with less than three minutes remaining, it appeared Christian would be able to run out the clock to seal the comeback victory. Instead Coffman ran for a 72-yard touchdown that gave the Patriots a 10-point lead with 2:38 left and punctuated the rally.
“I just thought I was going to get a first down, but the offensive line opened up a huge hole and I just ran,” Coffman said.
Christian’s defense spearheaded the come-from-behind effort against Mission Bay. The Patriots held the Buccaneers scoreless in the last three quarters after allowing touchdowns on Mission Bay’s first three drives.
“After the first half, we knew we just had to keep bringing it. We knew that they were going to get tired – we could see it,” Coffman said. “We outplayed them physically and mentally.”
With the victory, defending Division V champion Christian bounced back a loss at Francis Parker last week – its first defeat of the season. The loss took a familiar recent pattern for Mission Bay, who squandered an 11-point lead to Patrick Henry last week.