BY CHARLES WHISNAND
There is no justice. If justice was served the Monache High football team would have won this game. Years from now they'l be saying Monache beat Mission Oak 26-27.
But alas the official record will show Mission Oak defeated Monache 27-26 on Friday at Rankin Stadium. But only after the Marauders almost pulled off the miracle after being down 27-0.
And it was appropriate it was a player named David, who led the comeback as Monache almost pulled off a comeback of Biblical proportions. And David Levya pretty much did it on one leg for much of the second half as he had to keep coming in and out of the game with a leg that kept tightening up.
But Leyva still had plenty in the tank to run through the Hawks defense in the second half, gaining 107 yards on 14 carries in the final two quarters. This after he was held to -3 yards on six carries in the first half, so he finished the game with 104 yards on 20 carries.
Leyva, though, had plenty of help from his friends, including quarterback Brysn Hornsby, whose run at the end of the third quarter is really what ignited Monache's comeback.
It looked like Mission Oak was cruising to the win early in the third quarter when Kenny Jackson completed a 6-yard touchdown pass to give the Hawks a 27-0 lead. Jackson took over the quarterback duties from Michael Iriye, who filled the role as a running and receiving threat on Thursday.
Jackson had his way in the first half as Mission Oak built a 21-0 lead. He completed 13-of-20 passes in the first half for 235 yards. But it was a much different story in the second half as other than his 6-yard scoring pass, Jackson was for the most part shut down, completing just 5-of-8 passes for 30 yards in the final two quarters.
Jackson spent much of the second half being harassed by the likes of Aaron Hunt, Dagon Allee, Ashton Tilton and Ariel Gomez as the Marauders sacked him five times.
After the Hawks took their 27-0 lead, Levya broke free on a 49-yard run down to the Mission Oak 5-yard line. That set up the play action pass in which Hornsby completed a 5-yard scoring pass to a wide open Tony Castillo in the end zone, who was able to catch a pass on a night he was named Homecoming King.
Castillo then kicked the extra point to make it 27-7. The comeback then really gained momentum when Hornsby broke free 31-yard run on the read option all the way down inside the 1 on the last play of the third quarter. The drive was helped out by Damien Espinoza's 12-yard run.
Hornsby followed his big run by scoring on a 1-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter and Castillo added the extra point to pull Monache to within 27-14. The Monache defense stopped Mission Oak on the ensuing drive and Victor Ayon returned the punt 20 yards to give the Marauders the ball at the Hawks 49.
Leyva then had his second big run of the second half, a 44-yard run down to the Hawks 5 to set up his own 5-yard scoring run. But in a play that turned out to be one of the key plays of the game, the extra point was blocked, leaving Monache behind 27-20.
After the Monache defense came up big again, The Marauders methodically moved the ball down the field. Monache eventually faced 4th and 4 at the Hawks 27 and Leyva wouldn't be denied, carrying tacklers for a 5-yard gain for a first down to the Hawks 22.
Hornsby then completed a 19-yard pass to Taj Dollison as he bounced off several tackles on his way down to the 1. That set up Hornsby's 1-yard scoring run with 2:18 left in the game.
Monache coach Shane Focke decided to roll the dice and go for two, but Monache fumbled the ball on the handoff. The Marauder defense was able to get the ball back one more time, but Monache was unable to mount a drive.
The game started as it ended as Monache stopped Mission Oak on its opening drive and Hornsby completed a 22-yard pass to Andrew Martinez on the Marauders' opening drive.
But Mission Oak went on to dominate from there — until Monache almost pulled off the epic comeback.