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Mission City Bowl at Levi’s Stadium Brings Community Together

Mission City Bowl at Levi's Stadium Brings Community Together
Mission City Bowl at Levi's Stadium Brings Community Together

All streaks eventually are broken. The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak. Cal Ripken, Junior’s consecutive games played streak. Streaks come to an end.

Seemingly a massive family reunion, this year’s Mission City Bowl game between the Wilcox Chargers and Santa Clara Bruins had plenty to cheer on, a homecoming of sorts, with alumni from years gone by bringing the community together to support the City’s two high school football programs – some fans traveling over 500 miles for the game.

Held at Levi’s Stadium on Oct. 10 as part of the 49ers’ inaugural Friday Night Lights event, going in, the Chargers carried a 28-year and 29-game winning streak.

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Though the Chargers have dominated the cross-town rivalry for the past three decades, that didn’t deter fans from both schools coming out en mass – over 10,000 attended the first-ever high school game played at the home of the 49ers.

Could the perennial underdog, Santa Clara, find a way to conquer the streak, or would the Chargers cruise to their 30th consecutive win over their cross-town rival?

Wilcox wasted no time establishing their dominance. After deferring to the Bruins, the Chargers fired quickly, with junior Manu Turituri intercepting Bruins junior QB Branden Priest on the second play of the game. Senior Matthew Alquetra then trotted in for a 29-yard TD seconds later, giving the Chargers a 7-0 lead 30 seconds into the game.

The Chargers then forced a Bruins punt, followed by a steady 56-yard drive, culminating with senior Sonny Tuileila scoring on a 1-yard TD run – now 14-0 Wilcox midway through the first quarter.

Bruins junior Marquise Shields returned the ensuing kickoff 43 yards to midfield. Facing a fourth-and-one near midfield, Priest connected with senior Carlos Aceves for a 17-yard gain and a first down, though Turituri recorded his second INT on the following play, stalling the Bruins’ momentum.

The Bruins then stymied the Chargers’ potent veer offense, forcing a punt. Facing third-and-five, the Bruins went deep, getting a pass interference call. On third-and-eight, Priest completed a 36-yard TD pass to Aceves, pulling the Bruins to within a score after the PAT by senior Jonathan Alvares was blocked – 14-6 Wilcox with 1:30 left in the first quarter.

With 11 seconds remaining in the first quarter, the Bruins defense forced a second Chargers punt, though the Bruins couldn’t capitalize, settling for a quick three-and-out. Electrifying the Bruins fans after the punt, senior Alex Rios recovered a fumble on a Wilcox lateral at the 45-yard line.

Mission City Bowl at Levi's Stadium Brings Community Together

A 25-yard pass to Aceves plus a 15-yard unnecessary roughness call on the Chargers put the ball on 19. Facing fourth-and-1 at the 10, Priest connected for his second TD – to junior Shawndre Smith, pulling the Bruins within on – Wilcox up 14-13.

Getting too close for comfort, Wilcox senior Isaac Namowicz returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to pay dirt, giving the Chargers a 21-13 lead with 10:55 left in the first half.

Shields returned the kickoff to the 44, but the Chargers forced another Bruins punt on a second three-and-out possession. The Bruins defense once again shuttered the Chargers’ offense, forcing a third Chargers punt on a three-and-out possession. Shields muffed the punt, though, which was recovered by Tuileila. Alquetra then punched it in on a 16-yard run for his second TD – Wilcox going up 28-13 with 8:16 left in the half.

The Bruins then churned out another concrete drive, completing two third down conversions and a fourth down conversion en route to an eight-yard TD pass from Priest to junior Darius Jones-Dorsey, pulling the Bruins to within one score, trailing 28-20 with 4:35 left in the half. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” became the mantra at that point, with Bruins fans hoping and believing this could the year the Bruins pull off the unthinkable upset, conquering the streak on a grand stage.

Mission City Bowl at Levi's Stadium Brings Community Together

It was all Chargers from that point forward, with Tuileila bursting free on a 49-yard TD run, followed by a 35-yard TD return by Turituri, putting the Chargers up 42-20 with just over a minute remaining in the half. Sophomore Hesekaia Finiefieuiaki recorded the Chargers’ fifth INT in the half with seconds remaining.

The Chargers continued padding their lead; opening the second half with a 65-yard TD drive culminating in Alquetra’s third TD run – from one yard out. The Bruins were hoping to get back into the game, but Finefeuiaki returned yet another INT 84 yards for a TD, stretching the Chargers’ lead to 54-20.

The Chargers then recorded another pick by senior Johnny Carmack at midfield, but punted shortly thereafter, followed by a an INT by junior Julian Jones for a TD, giving the Chargers a 60-20 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Finefeuiaki recorded yet another INT for a TD, giving the Chargers a 67-20 lead, which ultimately was the final score. Junior Daniel Chear recorded an INT with 5:43 remaining in the game – the ninth for the Chargers in the game – setting a CCS record for INTs in a game, and tying the state record.

“We knew they were passing a lot. We have a solid D-line and were focused on turnovers,” said Turituri, one of the team’s captains. “This is a team thing. We play for each other.” Turituri added the Chargers went to a six-pack defensive formation, allowing more “trick” plays to startle the Bruins’ offense, which assisted in the INT frenzy.

Mission City Bowl at Levi's Stadium Brings Community Together

Head Coach Dan Brown told his team following the game, “we were a little shaky in the first half, but you guys put together a nice highlight reel,” adding that every member of the Chargers’ active roster received time on the field.

Priest finished 29-for-56 for 300 yards. The Chargers’ defense crushed the Bruins’ rush attack, holding the Bruins to negative five yards on 12 carries. Aceves compiled seven receptions for 100 yards, with Jones-Dorsey hauling in 11 receptions for 94 yards.

Alquetra led the Chargers’ 303-yard rushing total, with 85 yards and three TDs on nine carries, with Tuileila adding 63 yards on four carries. Jones was 7-for-9 on PATs.

Senior Justin Souza led the Chargers D with eight tackles. Tuileila, Jones, senior Isaiah Castaneda, senior Jonathan Pohahau and sophomore Noah Wright each added seven tackles.

The Bruins (1-4, 0-2) play at Los Gatos on Oct. 17 while the Chargers (4-1, 2-0) play at Saratoga on Oct. 17.

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