East County Sports

Knights turn out Foothillers in second half



By Jim Lindgren

Special to EastCountySports.com


LA MESA – In perhaps the best matchup in the county Friday night, Grossmont quarterback Jaime Odom completed five passes in the first half against No. 6-ranked San Marcos.

The first went for 15 yards. Then 50, 69, 54 and 54. Three of them went for touchdowns. Another was fumbled at the 5-yard line into the end zone for a touchback. Odom also had a 52-yard run, but he, too, fumbled into the end zone for a touchback.

Grossmont had a 21-point cushion late in the first half, and it could have been 35.

Then the wheels came off. The unthinkable happened. San Marcos found its mojo and rolled for 32 unanswered points, stealing a 32-21 win from the Foothillers at Jack Mashin Stadium.

“Honestly, I felt like we were going to win this game,” Grossmont coach Tom Karlo said. “We just weren’t able to keep it on them. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot.”

San Marcos had zero points and very little to show for its first 23 minutes. The next 25 were magnificent.

The Knights got a 36-yard touchdown run by Zach Frost with 0:25 to play before halftime to pull to 21-6. That score capped a 5-play, 62-yard drive and was a sign of things to come in the second half.

San Marcos had four possessions after intermission and scored all four times.

Aaron Norita scored on a 4-yard run to end an 11-play, 70-yard drive with 4:07 to play in the third quarter.

Three minutes later, Zach Frost tallied from 20 yards to finish a 5-play, 60-yard drive to make it 21-19.

Three minutes into the fourth quarter, Jalen Bailey hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Miles Hastings to give the Knights a 25-21 lead after a 7-play, 62-yard march.

Taking over again with 7:00 to play, San Marcos reeled off 11 plays and 86 yards over the next 6:01 to put the nail in the coffin on a 7-yard run by Norita.

“It was a game of spurts,” Karlo said. “We had our spurt in the first half. They had their spurt in the second half.”

Grossmont and San Marcos maintain two of the finest football programs in San Diego County, yet, oddly, both play second fiddle to even more successful schools in their own cities.

As the Foothillers have nemesis Helix across Interstate-8 in La Mesa, the Knights often take a backseat to Mission Hills in San Marcos.

Grossmont made the Open Division playoffs the past two years and lost in the first round both times to Mission Hills in wild, high-scoring affairs – 49-42 and 49-48.

San Marcos lost to Helix 62-41 in the Open Division semifinals last year.

Again, this year, Grossmont and San Marcos are strong contenders for another Open Division run. Friday’s game was the first matchup between these two powers since Grossmont edged San Marcos 12-7 in the 1989 playoffs.

Under Karlo, Grossmont is widely considered to have one of the most explosive offenses in the county. Under Jason Texler, San Marcos also fits that bill.

Odom, a junior, threw for 2,000 yards last year, and Hastings, a senior bound for UC Davis, topped 3,000. Both are considered among the elite QBs in the county and have outstanding supporting casts.

Big plays were expected. Both coaches spoke beforehand about the importance of playing a full, competitive 48 minutes because no lead would seem safe.

So what happens?

Both QBs misfire on their first five attempts. The first completed pass doesn’t occur until the seventh minute.

On its third possession, San Marcos finally completes a pass but the drive stalls and the Knights attempt a 50-yard field goal that falls woefully short.

On its third possession, Grossmont finally completes a pass. Odom’s second completion is taken 50 yards by Zak Farris, but he’s hit and fumbles near the goal line and the Knights’ JT Dozier recovers in the end zone.

The score is 0-0 until the final play of the first quarter. That’s when the fireworks begin.

On second-and-20, Odom scrambled on a busted play, faked a run and then tossed 15 yards downfield to a wide-open Brody Shicker, who took the short pass 69 yards for a 7-0 Grossmont lead.

Moments later, Odom raced from the pocket up the middle for a 52-yard pickup before he was hit near the goal line and fumbled into the end zone, where, again, Dozier picked up the loose ball for a touchback.

Midway through the second quarter, Odom had a pass batted backward at the line, but Robert Tucker caught the deflection behind the line, bolted up the middle and raced 54 yards for a 14-0 Foothillers’ advantage.

Minutes later, Odom found Thomas Mangum in the middle seam, and he split the defense for a 54-yard TD reception to make it 21-0 with 2:24 left in the half.

“When you’re down like that against a great team like Grossmont, you just try to focus on the next play,” Texler said. “Next thing you know we’re in the game again.

“I’m really proud of the way the kids battled throughout the game. They never got down. They just kept battling.”

Odom completed only 5 of 15 passes in the half, but he had 242 yards passing and 290 total yards with three touchdown passes to three different receivers.

“I never once thought this would be a blowout game,” Karlo said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be a blowout either way.”

Hastings completed only one of his first nine passes for 11 yards. Then he got hot. He finished the half 6-of-17 for 100 yards with an interception by Grossmont’s Conner Sanchez.

Hastings was 10-for-10 in the second half for another 141 yards with one TD.

San Marcos also ran the ball well. Frost gained 119 yards and two TDs on 15 carries. Norita gained 100 yards and two TDs on 24 carries.

“Obviously, down 21-0, we knew we had to battle back,” Hastings said. “No matter what the score, we battled back and fought hard for every yard.

“Grossmont is a great team. We knew we had to play hard the whole game to come out on top.”

Grossmont was forced to punt three times in the second half. Another possession ended on downs with an incomplete pass from the 40-yard line. The Foothillers’ final possession ended with a lost fumble.

“As a team, we didn’t fight like we should have,” Odom said. “We’re a better team than what we showed in the second half.

“We got some big plays in the first half, but we should have gotten more.”

Odom finished with 307 passing, completing 9 of 24 attempts. Farris caught three passes for 60 yards. Mangum nabbed two balls for 69 yards and Tucker had two for 66 yards. Shicker (69 yards) and Desmond Carter (43) had one reception each.

“I believe, personally, for our offense, we only stop ourselves,” Odom said. “I don’t believe any defense can stop us. We stop ourselves.”


San Marcos 0 6 13 13 – 32

Grossmont  7 14 0  0 – 21

G – Brody Shicker 69 pass from Jaime Odom (Axel Gonzalez kick)

G – Robert Tucker 54 pass from Odom (Axel Gonzalez kick)

G – Thomas Mangum 54 pass from Odom (Axel Gonzalez kick)

SM – Zach Frost 36 run (run failed)

SM – Aaron Norita 4 run (pass failed)

SM – Zach Frost 20 run (Caleb Mancini kick)

SM – Jalen Bainer 11 pass from Miles Hastings (pass failed)

SM – Aaron Norita 7 run (Caleb Mancini kick)

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