The East L.A. “Spartans” successfully used the “tried and true” game strategy of applying offensive pressure for a full 60 minutes against the High Desert “Rams” (from Victorville, CA.) in this very competitive PAC WEST Football League match-up. Game anticipation was high since it featured a serious early season match-up between the 8th ranked Spartans, and the 9th ranked Rams. And by sticking with their game plan, the Spartans came away with their second win a row, defeating the Rams by a score of 31-22. The Spartan offense was primed to put up points after three games and it was evident that Head Coach Ernie Navarro had made his choice on getting the ball to his highly-skilled position players through timely drives. The result—–there were plenty of “Big Plays” for the loyal Spartan fans to appreciate on this cool winter’s evening. The temperature on the field at game time was in the mid-60s. The Spartans went right to their Offensive Play Book and rode starting QB/#11 Jimmy Do’s (pronounced like Dough) accurate arm and WR/#81 Mike Rivera’s clutch hands as they hooked up on huge “game-changing” plays that gave the Spartans the early lead and then put them in a great position to seal the win later in the game. And now, we invite you to read our game summary and view our game Photo Gallery.
Game Recap: The Spartans drew first blood when they scored on a 1 yd. run by RB/#4 Zach Owens at the 6:00 minute mark of the 1st quarter. Since both teams matched-up well defensively, this would be the only score of the period.The Rams then got busy in the second quarter and were not to be denied, as they countered the Spartans first quarter score with two of their own. First, their agile and rangy southpaw QB/Robert Fuller connected with his versatile WR/Kiyron Brokenbough on a 15 yd. TD as he ran a fly pattern. Fuller then followed that up with a 45 yd. mortar lob to WR/Nick Reyes. Both PATs failed, but in that brief seven minute time span, the Rams took the lead, 12-7. Then, with 2:43 left in the half, a beautifully executed 43 yd. “Air Mail-Special Delivery” from QB/Jimmy Do to RB/#5 Deshawn Edmond gave the Spartans the lead back at 13-12. To conclude the 1st half scoring, QB/Jimmy Do then showed his“run-option” skills as he punched it in from the 5 yd. line at the 1:38 mark, allowing the Spartans to take a 19-12 lead into the locker room.
In the 3rd quarter, it was more of QB/Do using his running skills during a great drive, this time scoring his second TD from the 6 yd. line at the 8:00 minute mark. But most noteworthy of that drive was yet another spectacular“Big Play” when a perfectly thrown 45 yd.“Bomb” from QB/Do to “Mr. Clutch” WR/Mike Rivera, got them into close scoring position. This was their 2nd “difference-making” play of the game. With this TD, the scoreboard read, Spartans 25-Rams 12. Then, on a subsequent Spartans possession, the crowd witnessed a “head-scratching” play when a holding penalty was called while QB/Do was still in the end zone. The penalty resulted in an automatic safety and 2 points were awarded to the Rams. This is an NFL rule but is infrequently seen or called. When play resumed, the score now read East L.A. 25 – High Desert 14. After the Spartans’ free kick, the Rams then took to their running game when QB/Fuller scampered untouched for a 25 yd. TD run, cutting the margin to 25-20. They then added a 2 point conversion. These ten quick and unanswered points caused the home team a huge concern as the score now read, Spartans 25, Rams 22. After making a few more Play Book adjustments, Coach Navarro relied on his ball-control offense to drive the Spartans into scoring position as the 3rd quarter was winding down. The Spartans scored their 5th and final TD just before the period ended when QB/Do found his WR/Harold Arnold open downfield and the result was a 24 yd. TD, which moved the score to 31-22, Spartans. QB/Do was well-protected in the pocket most of the game thanks to his big O-Line doing their jobs up front.
But, with the final quarter still to be played, an“automatic start-up” of the field’s sprinklers added some final game drama as both team owners, Niko Gonzalez (Spartans) and James Sears (Rams) diligently, but cautiously met with game officials to determine the best“course of action” to complete the game. After a 15 minute discussion, it was agreed and determined that the teams would use the driest part of the field (from the 50 yd. line to the Southern end zone) as the official playing field. After play resumed, both teams battled fiercely to a 4th quarter defensive draw, and the final score read “East L.A. Spartans” 31, the “High Desert Rams” 22.
Post-Game Comments From Coach Navarro: “The Rams played well all around, and on defense they gave us trouble with their Spread Offense which we had yet to see until this game. We gave up a couple early passing TDs but I take full responsibility for not aligning us properly. I thought our defense adjusted well in the 2nd half including our front seven led by Defensive Tackle/Edwin Flores, and Linebacker/J.R White, I really think this is one of the most talented groups I have coached. Offensively, I believe we are improving game-by-game. QB/Jimmy Do gave the team a couple of explosive plays with his running and passing skills. Unfortunately we had two key injuries during the game when FB/Manny Ojeda (ankle) and RB/Zach Owens (knee) went down. As yet we have no timeline on their return. Then after the game, team owner Niko Gonzalez, and I were informed that our WR/Mike Quinonez was involved in a bad car accident. He was seriously hurt but has now rapidly responded to his medical treatment. We all hope for his gradual and full recovery. This will be a big week as we prepare to host the defending PAC WEST Champions, the So. Cal. “Elite.” Our goal every week is to go 1-0, and although it will be difficult, I believe this team has something special in them. I know we can WIN!”
Up Next: The PAC WEST’s #1 ranked team, the “So. Cal Elite” on Saturday, February 28th. Kick-off is at 7 pm., Roosevelt High School.
Credits: Richie Subintr, Photo Gallery; Erik Sarni, East L.A. Sports Scene/Video & Digital Photography; Jose Estrada, Production Assistant and Game “Spotter.” Rico Cabrera, Sr./Editor, EastLASports Scene.Com
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