East County Sports

Cougars persevere for playoff encore

Steele Canyon's JORDAN ANDERSON scores on a 56-yard pass Friday night. / EastCountySports photo

Steele Canyon’s KENNETH WATSON rushes Friday night against Mira Mesa. / EastCountySports photo



Steele Canyon’s ROBERT WHITEHEAD (19) throws himself into a tackle Friday night. / EastCountySports photo

By Ramon Scott



SPRING VALLEY – THOMAS FISHBURNE wasn’t planning on losing his final home game for the Steele Canyon Cougars.

Steele Canyon senior THOMAS FISHBURNE rushes in for a touchdown late in the first half Friday night. / EastCountySports photo

Even without his Cougar co-superstar MIKEL OLIVER joining him in a final senior encore due to a knee injury, Fishburne took it upon himself to will Steele to victory one final time and this time when they needed him most.

After leading a series of key defensive plays in the first quarter, Fishburne passed for 201 yards and three touchdowns, while also running for a touchdown late in the first half to give the hosts a two-score lead in the locker room, guiding the Cougars to a 36-22 San Diego CIF Division 2 first-round win over the Mira Mesa Marauders of the powerful Western League Friday night.

The Cougars beat Mira Mesa 52-26 in September after falling behind in the opening moments, and it appeared it would happen again as Marauder junior quarterback Noah Tumblin ran for 34 yards deep into SC territory.

He capped the opening drive with an 8-yard TD with 8:25 remaining in the first quarter.

But this time around, rather than falling behind by two scores, Fishburne, along with new rushing threat KENNETH WATSON, moved his offense briskly on a drive before culminating the march with a 12-yard scoring strike to JORDAN ANDERSON, giving the Cougs a 7-6 lead with under two minutes left in the opening quarter.

A few minutes later, Fishburne threw a touchdown pass to Anderson from 54 yards out on a long catch-and-run, extending the lead to 14-6.

Fishburne and PERRY STEELE connected on a second-quarter score to make it 21-7 just five minutes into the period and it appeared the rout could be on.

However, the Marauders’ Artyom Harr had a 7-yard receiving score from Tumblin and a 2-point conversion closed it to 21-14.

With 25 seconds left in the second quarter, Fishburne ran a delay to the right side and scored on a 9-yard keeper.

Steele Canyon puts a hit on Mira Mesa Friday night. / EastCountySports photo

In the third quarter, Mira Mesa scored to make it 28-22 and give the visitors hope for a comeback.

But Steele Canyon’s Watson capped another stellar rushing night with a 38-yard score. He also scored the 2-point conversion to extend the lead 36-22.

Steele Canyon had 414 yards of total offense on the night.

Senior defensive end DARIN WALTON had 3 quarterback sacks for Steele Canyon.

With their first playoff victory since Nov. 20, 2015, a 38-35 come-from-behind win over Grossmont, seventh-seeded Steele Canyon (7-4) will now travel next week to take on second-seeded Bishop’s.

The undefeated Knights are ranked sixth in the county.

The Cougars will surely need their other star, Oliver, in the lineup to have a better shot at knocking off now-perennial power Bishop’s.

The San Diego State-bound defensive end is one of the top rushers in the county, but has missed three-straight games with a knee injury.

Oliver has a desire to play against the Knights’ high-precision and prolific passing offense, but also knows his future is ahead of him as a member of the Aztecs.




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