CARSON, Calif. —
With one broken play, everything changed.
And eventually Madison (San Diego)
High School's football team broke the hearts of Marin Catholic (Kentfield)
with a sterling 38-35 victory in the CIF Division III Bowl Championship victory Saturday at the Home Depot Center.
Madison sophomore quarterback
turned a bad snap and 21-0 deficit to gold as he started a 31-point run with a spectacular 50-yard touchdown pass to Lee Walker
early in the second quarter.
Coles picked up the bad snap over his head early in the second quarter, evaded a heavy rush, scrambled to the right along the Madison sideline and then fired a perfect spiral to a streaking Walker to cut the lead to 21-7.
"I was just thinking pick up the ball and don't fumble," said Coles, who threw for 149 yards and two touchdowns. "I got a great block from (Michael Garner
), got to the sideline and just flung it up there."
Said Walker on the other end: "It was supposed to be a running play, so I just kept running. That's why I call (Coles) our super sophomore. Without that play and perfect throw, I'm not sure what would have happened to us."
From there what happened was mostly Arizona-bound running back Pierre Cormier
, who rushed for a career high 296 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner on a 79-yard jaunt with 7 minutes, 24 seconds remaining.
It helped offset another huge performance from Marin Catholic (14-2) and Cal-bound quarterback Jared Goff
, who threw for 262 yards and accounted for all five of his team's touchdowns, including two scoring strikes in the fourth quarter that gave his team a 35-31 lead with 7:50 left.
But two plays after Goff's fourth TD pass of the game, a 37-yarder to
, Cormier broke through a huge hole on the left side and was barely touched. He earlier scored on runs of 5 and 30 yards.
"I'll never forget the play for the rest of my life," said the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Cormier. "I'll never forget this game for the rest of my life. It was an unbelievable game."
That's for sure.
The 3-hour, 15-minute contest featured 880 yards, 37 first downs, three big swings and big plays galore. There were also 21 penalties, 12 on Marin Catholic, which dropped its second Bowl Game after dropping a 24-20 game to Serra (Gardena) in 2009. The following year Madison lost the Division III Bowl game to Escalon 30-14.
Madison coach Rick Jackson said this one, obviously, felt a whole lot better. At least after the first quarter.
"Those are two drastic sets of emotions," Jackson said. "Last time we came out and battled and gave it our all. But it's nice to be on the other side of that (result). We just didn't get it done last time. This time we did."
After cutting a 21-0 deficit to 21-17 by halftime, Madison (14-1) took its first lead with 44 seconds on a 5-yard scamper around left end by Cormier on a fourth-and-1 play. That made it 24-21.
When Madison increased the lead to 31-21 on a 30-yard touchdown run by Cormier on the second play of the fourth quarter, Marin Catholic could have wilted.
Instead Goff came back with touchdown passes of 76 and 37 yards to Danny Noonan
and Hanley to go up 35-31 with 7:50 left. The pass to Noonan was a beautifully thrown bomb of 60 yards in the air. The second came after Goff looked off one receiver and fired a strike over the middle to Hanley on a post pattern.
The pass was actually tipped by Austen Scarville
, but the ball went straight up into the air. Hanley snagged it to give Marin Catholic back the lead 35-31 with 7:50 left.
"We've been coming back and fighting all year," said a dejected Goff after the game. "Unfortunately we just couldn't finish it off."
Cormier had one more answer 26 seconds later on his 79-yard scamper. The hole was massive and the fleet Cormier was barely touched on the go-ahead score, putting a perfect capper on a great career.
"It's unbelievable, he had the best night of his career on the biggest night of his career," Jackson said. "He had some pretty big holes though, especially on that last one. That's a tribute to our guys up front."
Marin Catholic had one more chance and drove from its own 20 to the Madison 30, keyed by two completions and two runs by Goff. But a sack by Keoni Kanoa
pushed the ball back and Goff was eventually intercepted by Scarville at the Madison 2. The Warhawks ran out the clock from there.
"I just think they played better than we did today," Marin Catholic coach Mazi Moayed said. "We gave everything we had, but Madison was just a little better than us today."
What looked like a Marin Catholic rout turned into a terrific first half. Goff directed three touchdown drives in the first 12:02 and accounted for each of them as Marin Catholic raced to a 21-0 lead.
He opened the scoring following a 30-yard punt return by
with a terrific inside fake and 4-yard bootleg around left end for a touchdown to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead with 9:01 left in the first quarter. View the Qwixcore game log
Another big punt return by Celis — this one 20 yards — set up a 32-yard scoring drive, that was capped on a 16-yard touchdown strike from Goff to Billy Alten
with 2:21 left in the quarter.
"We were just a little slow, a step behind in our coverages at the beginning," Jackson said. "You can't do that against a quarterback of that caliber. He's unbelievable. He's an exceptional quarterback. It just took us a while to get used to that tempo.
"We got it going the second and third quarter, but then he got it rolling again in the fourth. It got kind of scary for a while."
With yet another short field after a short punt, Marin Catholic had to go just 32 yards again, this time in four plays, finished off with another TD pass, this one of 4 yards to Celis, making it 21-0 on the first play of the second quarter.
The Wildcats took that lead largely because of superb field position, starting their drives on the Madison 6, 32 and 32.
But the entire game changed on the 50-yard TD pass from Coles to Walker.
On Madison's next possession, Coles fired a pretty 3-yard touchdown strike to Michael Garner to make it 21-14 with 7:48 left in the half. Then, just before the half, Anthony Herrera
drilled a 41-yard field goal to cut Marin Catholic's lead to 21-17. Though the Wildcats led, the Warhawks had all the momentum. View the CIF Live Stats
"I thought our kids handled (the big deficit) really well," Jackson said. "Everything was snowballing against us. We just kept saying let's get a drive, just one drive."
But it turned out to be one play and a Madison championship.