East County Sports

Good enough: Pats hold off Lincoln

Christian's THEO GOODWIN gets away from a Lincoln defender Friday night at Valley Stadium. / Don De Mars Photography




By Jim Lindgren
© East County Sports.com


EL CAJON (11-26-16) —  Shortly after leading Christian to its 12th straight win and another San Diego Section championship game on Friday night (Nov. 25), THEO GOODWIN had to remind coach MATT OLIVER that he wouldn’t be at a film session the next day.


Instead, Goodwin will be on the sideline of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for today’s USC-Notre Dame game, being hosted by the Trojans.



TSHOMBRE CARTER runs through the line for Christian Friday night against Lincoln. / Don De Mars Photography

Goodwin might want to bring his highlights from Christian’s 35-34 win over Lincoln in the Division III semifinals at Valley Stadium.


The 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior wideout caught seven passes for 119 yards and a nifty 27-yard touchdown. On a sweep option left, the lefty also heaved a beautiful pass deep downfield that ETHAN CONTRERAS turned into an 84-yard touchdown on the second play of the second half.


The first play of the second half went for a 22-yard loss on a fumble in the backfield, so Christian was facing a second-and-32 from their own 16-yard line.


“It was a designed pass but after I got the pitch, the pass wasn’t there,” said Goodwin, sporting a hat with one word inscribed on the front, JESUS. “I was going to tuck and run it around left end. But just as I approached the line, I noticed (Contreras) was wide open along the sideline.


It was Goodwin’s second TD pass of the season, and he now has 59 catches for 1,135 yards and 13 TDs. Along with four kickoff returns, he has a hand in 19 TDs.


Goodwin’s toss and Contreras’ TD gave Christian a 28-20 lead that the Patriots would extend to 35-20 early in the fourth quarter on a 12-yard TD run by TSHOMBRE CARTER.



Christian senior JOEY MORONES runs in front of senior lineman CHASE HANDLEY Friday night. / Don De Mars Photography

No. 4-seeded Lincoln (7-5) closed with two touchdowns in the final 7:25, but two missed conversions and a failed onside-kick attempt with 0:52 left took the buzz out of the Hornets.


“I told you it was a scary game,” Oliver said. “They have a lot of great players.


With its second win over Lincoln this season, top-seeded Christian (12-0) advanced to the Division III championship game against No. 2-seed Bishop’s (12-0) next Saturday at 11 a.m. at Southwestern College.


“Our kids deserve this,” Oliver said. “They’ve worked very hard all year. We seemed to answer every time we needed to tonight. We got big plays on offense and defense stops when we needed them.


“Lincoln is a good football team. It’s hard to beat anyone twice in a season, let alone one as talented as Lincoln.”


Christian and Lincoln had never faced each other in the playoffs, and a 35-17 win in Week 7 was Christian’s first-ever win over the Hornets. In its infant stages of big-time high school football, the Patriots lost to Lincolnnine straight years between 1981 and 1989 by a whopping point differential of 361-77.


Christian and Lincoln have combined for 18 section titles. Christian has 10 section banners, including Division III crowns in 2014 over Hoover (30-9) and 2013 over San Marcos (19-7). Lincoln’s most recent title came in 2012 over Ramona (42-14).


Christian is 1-1 against Bishop’s in championship games. The Patriots beat the Knights 14-0 in the Division IV title game in 1995. The Knights beat the Patriots 17-7 for the Division V crown in 2007.


To get to this year’s championship, Christian piled up 447 total yards.


BRAD JEREMIAH completed 13 of 22 passes for 226 yards, including a 27-yard TD to Goodwin. Combined, Jeremiah and Goodwin threw for 310 yards and two scores.



Christian’s ISAAC ROSENTHAL tackles Lincoln’s Da’Jon Thomas during the Patriots’ SDCIF Division 3 semifinals Friday night.

“Brad Jeremiah played really well,” said Oliver, who earned his 150th coaching win. “He really threw some nice balls, and he was a real leader out there.”


Bruising fullback JOEY MORONES had five touchdowns in Christian’s earlier win over Lincoln. He got two more Friday on short runs behind tackle JONATHAN STINE, guard AUSTIN MANION and center JAMIR HAILEY. Morones finished with 82 yards on 16 carries. Carter added 45 yards and a TD on 13 attempts.


BRYCE RIEPL caught three passes for 78 yards, and Contreras had the huge 84-yard reception.


“I couldn’t be more proud of our players,” offensive coordinator DAVID BEEZER said. “They’ve been digging deep all year. For us to beat Lincoln twice is awesome.


“We knew they were very good; by far the best team we’ve played all season. Their staff does a great job.


“But our guys battled. They love each other, they love the game of football, and they’re a family.”


Christian came in averaging 41.4 points and 359 yards per game. The Patriots have now scored 490 points, moving into the top 25 on the section’s all-time single-season scoring list.


The Patriots won the first half, 21-20, getting 239 total yards. Jeremiah was 9 of 15 for 159 yards with Goodwin hauling in six of those for 110 yards.


Christian scored on its opening possession, going 43 yards in seven plays with Morones bulling in from 2 yards.


Lincoln tied it after an 11-play, 80-yard drive ended on a 14-yard TD keeper by quarterback Asante Hartzog.


Christian quickly drove 85 yards in seven plays to make it 14-7. Jeremiah hit Goodwin for 31 yards and then 27 for the score as Goodwin took a short pass and straight-armed a defender at the 12-yard line en route to paydirt.



JOEY MORONES and ISAAC ROSENTHAL converge on a Christian ball carrier Friday night. / Don De Mars Photography

Lincoln answered with a 98-yard kickoff return by Da’Jon Thomas, but the Hornets’ conversion kick clanked off the left upright so it was 14-13 with 1:31 to play in the first quarter.


After holding on downs, Lincoln needed one play to go up 20-14, a 66-yard TD scamper by Hartzog, who finished with 135 rushing yards on just eight carries.


Hartzog also threw for 142 yards on 13 of 26 attempts, including a 31-yard touchdown to George McCorley in the fourth quarter. Hartzog also threw one interception, a costly one by ALEXANDER GONZALEZ at the 10-yard line with Lincoln driving early in the third quarter.


With 2:30 to play before intermission, Christian went up 21-20 on a 1-yard TD plunge by Morones.


On the first play of the third quarter, Lincoln’s Micah Edwards, who rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, tipped a backward lateral pass by Christian that resulted in a 22-yard loss.


But it also set up Goodwin’s heroic toss to Contreras that gave Christian a 28-20 lead.


Early in the fourth quarter, Carter’s 12-yard touchdown made it 35-20.


The Hornets would not roll over, however. They mounted two scoring drives down the stretch but were done in by an incomplete pass on a 2-point conversion attempt that kept the score 35-26 – meaning Lincoln needed two more scores to win.


Lincoln did get one more touchdown and a 2-point conversion to pull to 35-34 with 0:52 left, but the Hornets’ ensuing onside-kick attempt bounced high over Christian’s front line and wound up going untouched out of bounds.


Jeremiah took a knee twice as the clock ran out, and Christian earned a chance for an 11th section title. Only Oceanside has more with 15.



Goodwin goes up for a grab Friday night. / Don De Mars Photography

Christian’s ISAAC ROSENTHAL made all five of extra-point kicks, while Lincoln failed twice on conversions. Ironically, the Hornets beat Santa Fe Christian 29-28 last week on a 2-point conversion run by Edwards.


Along with Stine, Manion and Hailey, CHASE HANDLEY and DUNCAN HUNTER played well on the offensive line, allowing zero quarterback sacks and leading the way to 137 rushing yards and 310 passing yards.


On defense, Morones was in on several stops, and GARRETT ROSENTHAL had a key sack on the second-to-last play in the second quarter, forcing Lincoln to punt.


On the last play, Goodwin took a reverse sweep around left end. It only gained 2 yards, but it helped set up his TD pass from the same formation on the second play of the second half. Lincoln bit on the play and left Contreras about 10 yards behind the defense for Christian’s biggest play of the season.

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