First published in the Sept. 10 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
After dropping its first two games of the football season, Glendale High had hopes the third time out would be the charm and result in the first win of the campaign. However, visiting Lynwood had other ideas.
The Nitros seemed to seize control of the contest in the third quarter, only to see it slip away from them in the fourth, resulting in a 14-12 nonleague loss against the visiting Knights last Friday at Moyse Field.
“It’s just our mistakes,” Glendale coach Jacob Ochoa said. “I told these guys the first step is that they need to learn to play football, and they are starting to learn how to play football, but now we need to learn how to play winning football. In a game like this, it shows we don’t know how to play winning football. We don’t know how to finish some of these games. We don’t know how to finish some of these drives. We’ve got to get better at that.”
The fourth quarter began with Lynwood (3-0 record) driving the ball with the Nitros leading 12-0. The Knights soon found themselves facing a fourth down and two to go at Glendale’s 15-yard line. Quarterback Maximillan Archiega used his sizable girth to power ahead to pick up the first down. Soon after, the senior plowed his way in standing up for a one-yard touchdown. The PAT run came up short and the score was 12-6 with 9:47 to go.
The Nitro return man fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Knights recovered. However, the Glendale defense held strong, getting the ball back in four plays. Key was a tackle for loss on third down by Nitro Daniel Autrey, leading to a quarterback run that came up short on fourth down.
Then the wheels fell off for the Nitros (0-3 record). After they had advanced the ball to near midfield, a litany of miscues that included a personal foul, multiple delay-of-game penalties and two botched snaps, Glendale was faced with a fourth down and 43 yards to go on their own nine-yard line.
The Nitros punted from their own end zone and Lynwood got the ball back at the Nitros’ 22-yard line and 2:22 left. Soon after, on fourth down and six yards to go on the eight-yard line, Archiega passed to Michael Mercado, who caught the ball in the end zone between multiple Nitro defenders to tie the score. Archiega successfully converted the PAT try with his legs to give Lynwood the lead for the first time with 1:22 left.
Glendale’s final chance to salvage the contest ended when a tipped pass from Wells was picked off, allowing the vistors to kneel down to burn off the rest of the clock.
“We left a little too much time for them and our defense couldn’t finish it off at the end,” Ochoa said.
Glendale had won the opening coin toss and deferred to the second half, giving the hosts first crack at some points. The Nitros mounted a 64-yard scoring drive that lasted 2:28. A big chunk came on a 31-yard pass from Jonathan Wells to Justin Melville that moved the hosts into Knight territory. Soon after, running back Joseph Caballero ran the ball inside for a four-yard touchdown, one play after the sophomore had ripped off a 24-yard run to set the table for the score. The PAT pass attempt failed and the score was 6-0 following a scoreless first half.
The ensuing possession for Lynwood lasted just four plays. On fourth down, Nitro Anthony Mendoza knocked down a pass, giving the Nitros the ball back just 33 yards from paydirt. Glendale took advantage of the short field, and soon Caballero struck again, running the ball in for another touchdown. This one was from 14 yards out and saw the sophomore spin and keep his legs churning, pushing his way backward across the goal line draped in Knight defenders. The snap for the two-point conversion attempt was mishandled.
“We finally got up 12-0. We were running the ball and kind of had a game plan,” Ochoa said. “We thought we would continue to do that, but then mistakes.”
Caballero rushed for a team-high 68 yards on 13 carries and the two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Glendale had three different players line up at quarterback and throw a pass. Wells finished four of eight for 58 yards and an interception. Isaac Quiroz was four of six for 43 yards. Jonathan Anaya did not complete a pass. Melville was a top receiver with five grabs for 87 yards.
The first half ended with an interception near the goal line by Anaya. The junior also recovered a fumble in the second quarter, as did Nitro Alejandro Maravilla.