Aside from Santa Clara tailback Erik Ketton taking the first play from scrimmage 80 yards to the house, Friday’s tilt between the Santa Clara Bruins and the Fremont Firebirds didn’t start out particularly well for the two offensive units. After Ketton’s touchdown, the Firebirds’ first drive would stall deep in Santa Clara’s territory with Fremont turning the ball over on downs.
The Bruins took over and were unable to capitalize on the opportunity. A first-down carry by Ketton was stopped for a four-yard loss. The very next play was snapped high over the head of quarterback Christopher Brown. Brown then had to fall on the ball in the end zone for a safety in order to prevent a Firebirds touchdown.
After the safety, Fremont failed to muster anything on the following drive. They would go three and out before punting the ball away. Ketton would catch the punt at his own 45-yard line and return all the way back to the Firebirds’ 10. Unfortunately for Santa Clara fans, the Bruins failed to convert on fourth and one at the goal line, turning the ball back over to Fremont. Through the first five possessions of this game, there was only one scoring drive by either offense. At this point, however, somebody flipped a switch and the two teams started trading touchdowns.
Fremont would take over just outside their own end zone and drive the length of the field to score a touchdown, taking a 9-7 lead. Two possessions later the Bruins grabbed the lead back on a 15-yard touchdown run by Ketton. That score was set up by some good work on the drive by Santa Clara wide receiver Richard Corona. Down 14-9, the Firebirds ran a quick counter, resulting in a long touchdown from their bruising “tailback” Agatonu T. N. Fuaimalolelei to retake the lead at 16-14.
“I think he’s like 5’11” 235-240, we didn’t know he played running back,” admitted Bruins Head Coach Hank Roberts. “I think this is his first game as a running back. He’s been their tight-end and [linebacker]. Thank God he just played running back tonight. If he had played linebacker, we would have been up poop’s creek.”
Santa Clara would once again respond immediately. More outstanding work was put in on this drive between Brown and Corona, setting Ketton up for his third touchdown of the game. Just like that, the Bruins were up 21-16. Back and forth they went as Fremont responded on their next drive with a 60-yard touchdown pass, snatching the lead back at 23-21.
Midway through the second quarter is when the Bruins would finally break the streak of alternating touchdowns. Santa Clara sandwiched touchdown passes to Joseph Hernandez and Nick Garcia around a failed Fremont drive. The Firebirds refused to cave though and drove down the field to score a touchdown just as time expired in the first half, pulling within 35-30.
Fremont would get the ball first in the second half, but their opening drive stalled quickly and the Firebirds were forced to up punt. Feeding off their initial stop, the Bruins marched quickly down the field. This time it was Corona getting the much deserved touchdown fame by catching a pass over the middle, pushing the lead to 42-30.
“Coach called a play called ‘cinco left snag post’—basically we both ran posts,” recalled Corona on his touchdown grab. “The matchup was against two of the taller players for Fremont and everyone talks about them, so I knew I had to win my matchup. Show that my team can play too. Shout out to Chris on the throw, we proved who we really are with that touchdown.”
Corona’s touchdown started yet another long string of alternating touchdowns—eight to be exact. Four touchdowns for each side on eight-consecutive drives. With the Bruins up 63-50, Fremont took over with less than four minutes remaining. They didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry though, and didn’t score until there was just one minute remaining. They would then attempt an onside kick, but Garcia would recover it for the Bruins to seal the victory.
“Our defense has bailed us out [in the past] and they are going to continue to bail us out,” noted coach Roberts. “Tonight, we [the offense] just returned the favor.”
Santa Clara will look to improve to 4-0 against Cupertino next week in a battle of the last remaining undefeated teams in the El Camino league.