Matadores’ Dallis Shipp has three touchdown catches as La Mirada overcomes early deficit to eliminate Falcons.
By Maddy PUMILIA
It all came down to one touchdown and one onside kick.
Down by five points after a failed two-point conversion with a minute and a half in the fourth quarter, the Crescenta Valley Falcons needed to recover the onside kick and get a touchdown to win the game.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, their chance at winning the CIF title ended after the La Mirada Matadores recovered the kick and ran out the clock to win their CIF first-round playoff game 35-30.
The defense couldn’t stop La Mirada wide receiver Dallis Shipp, partly due to some confusion over who to cover. CV’s running back/corner back Marro Lee said he’d take full responsibility for what happened with Shipp.
“I was assigned to [Shipp],” Lee said, “They lined up in bunch. I told Jack [Lutynski] and Kevin Cooper on two different instances, when they bracket, I’ll play the outside guy whoever comes out and they had the correct defense assignment and you have to stay with them the whole time. I blew that.”
“[They] thought they could switch guys,” Head Coach Paul Schilling explained. “They were supposed to stay on their guy and they switched and they all were confused.”
“We came in with a whole new set geared toward their running backs,” wide receiver Nick Ruiz added. “Anytime you have a new defensive plan like that with an offense that’s so different, it makes it kind of tough.”
Schilling said La Mirada’s running game was its strong suit, but Matadores’ quarterback Gerry Myres threw three touchdowns, all to Shipp.
“They had to adjust and do what they’re not good at,” Schilling said. “Throwing the ball. But they did a good job. So that’s a tribute to them… We don’t want [La Mirada] to run the ball. We did a good job of what we thought they were going to do to us. They had to adjust. They made an adjustment, they made plays, that’s football.”
The Falcons started off strong with two touchdowns, both to Ruiz in the first quarter. The second score came after La Mirada fumbled CV’s onside kick.
La Mirada scored with under a minute left in the first when Myers found Shipp for a 28-yard score.
About eight minutes left in the second quarter, Myres threw another touchdown to Shipp. With 3:35 left in the second, the Matadores scored another touchdown, this time by running back Johnny Hills. The Matadores, who were down by 14 points in the first quarter, took the lead by a touchdown.
Quarterback Zac Wilkerson’s pass was almost intercepted on CV’s next drive. Then Wilkerson was sacked, so the half ended with CV punting. At the end of the first half, Shipp finished with five receptions for 97 yards.
In the second half, CV recovered a fumble at midfield. A pass on third-and-goal was incomplete, so CV settled for a field goal. The score was 21-17.
La Mirada answered with another touchdown, again a connection between Myres and Shipp.
Big plays by Lee set up a touchdown by Wilkerson, narrowing La Mirada’s lead to 4 with 2:26 in the third quarter.
But 14 seconds later, Hills ran 80 yards for a touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, after a long drive by CV, Wilkerson ran for another touchdown. CV tried a two-point conversion – getting it would mean they just needed a field goal to tie the game. The conversion was unsuccessful – CV needed the touchdown. But first they needed to recover the onside kick. The kick didn’t go 10 yards, meaning it was La Mirada’s ball and the game was over.
Some Pacific League teams still have a chance of winning the title. Three teams are moving on to the second round: Arcadia, Muir and Pasadena. Burroughs was eliminated from the playoffs. Arcadia will play La Mirada next.
What They Said Afterward
“We expected to win. We came in here thinking we’re going to win this game. They’re good. But we just thought we were a good match-up.”
– Coach Paul Schilling
“I just feel bad for the seniors. They’re bummed out.”
“I’m very disappointed, but I mean, we made a couple mistakes. I’d say we played our heart out and that’s all you can ask for. We played as hard as we could have. We fell five points short.”
– Running Back Marro Lee
“We all fought hard. We just didn’t step it up sometimes. That’s all that counts …We all individually tried to fight as hard as we could.”
– Wide Receiver Nick Ruiz
What Lies Ahead
Lee and Ruiz are both seniors. Lee said he had some Division III schools expressing interest and he’s excited to play if he has the opportunity. Ruiz wasn’t sure if he’d play in college. It depends if he decides to play soccer instead.
Although many star players including Ruiz, Lee, Wilkerson, center/linebacker Nathan Sarreal and tight end Justin Springfield are graduating, there’s hope for the future.
“Our JV has a winning record even though they only won two games their freshman year,” Schilling said “We had 19 wins at three levels [this season]. We feel like we’re on the right track.”