Late in the fourth quarter, it appeared as if the Chargers were prime to overcome their own self-inflicted errors and a horrible missed call by the officials to win their second CIF State Championship in four years. That is until a second incredibly poor call by the referees gave the opposing Scripps Ranch squad one more opportunity to score a game-winning touchdown, which they did with less than a minute left to win 31-28.
Wilcox had come all the way back from a 21-0 halftime deficit to take the lead 28-24 with just 3:20 remaining in the game. The incredible comeback by the Chargers to take the lead was necessary in large part because of their own mistakes.
Early fumbles ended promising first half drives. However, a third fumble should have been ruled a Wilcox touchdown. Down 14-0, Luther Glenn clearly went over the goal line standing up with possession of the ball after a 1-yard carry at the goal line. The entire ball had crossed the plane of the goal line when it was jarred loose and rolled out of bounds. Somehow, even with an official staring right down the line, the officials botched the call, ruling a touchback. Just a few plays later the Falcons made it 21-0.
“It was right away because we have video on our sideline,” confirmed Wilcox Head Coach Paul Rosa on if they knew immediately how bad the call was not awarding a touchdown. “But I made a big point with our sideline about not talking about it anymore. There’s nothing you can do to change it, with no replay reviews.”
Despite the unfortunate swing of events late in the first half, the Chargers responded with arguably their most impressive half of football all season. Quarterback Armand Johnson completed 11 passes for the game and 190 yards, most of which came in that second half.
Typically, Wilcox only attempts two or three passes a game on average, yet Johnson found his weapons in Charlie Carlson, Maulidi Saleh and Glenn for some big time plays in the passing game to help rally the troops.
“He did great. He did really great,” chimed tailback Andrew Palacios on Johnson’s performance. “He did everything he was supposed to and our offensive line did a great job of blocking.”
Johnson scored the Chargers’ first touchdown of the game on the ground and threw another to Glenn, the latter of whom would add two more touchdowns on the ground. But after Glenn’s second rushing touchdown of the game put the Chargers up 28-24, the officials inserted themselves into the game one more time.
Wilcox appeared to have iced the game with an interception by sophomore linebacker Jeramiah Lewis, only for an extremely questionable flag to be thrown for defensive holding.
“The referees weren’t calling much all game, and I was ok with that. Let the kids win the game. But the flag, I was a lot upset over that one, because it came out so late,” admitted Coach Rosa. “We had already caught the ball, returned it and celebrated. I actually haven’t seen the play, but obviously, I got about a thousand text messages about it.”
“That was tough, you think you just won the game,” added Palacios. “And all of a sudden they call a penalty. Probably one of the worst feelings you can have playing.”