Olympians Take Home Win Against Mounties

Mounties’ magic number remains at one with Fullerton next


Left to right: Offensive linemen Tevita Moe, Teva Reynolds, Tevita Moana, and Joseph Kimmey. Photo by Mychal Corbin/SAC.Media

The Mt. SAC Mounties (6-3) will head into their final game after a loss to San Diego Mesa (6-3). In a game where San Diego Mesa had the lead a majority of the time, the Mounties were able to linger long enough to force overtime on their final drive of regulation. The Mounties still have control and a win next week will clinch a spot in the playoffs.

Quarterback Zachary Rangel takes in a moment of prayer on the Covina District Field before the second to last regular season game against San Diego Mesa on Saturday Nov. 9. Photo by Mychal Corbin

The game could not have started off better for Mt. SAC as an interception by linebacker Conor Heisius set up the offense in good field position. It only took two plays for them to put points on the board in the form of a 6-yard run from UCLA commit Rachaad White. It was the start of another strong outing for White, who finished the game with 202 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns.

San Diego Mesa responded with a touchdown of their own on their next drive. Olympians quarterback Joshua Pisik marched his offense down the field with precision passing before completing a 29-yard pass to Don McManus to get them inside the Mounties 10-yard line. The drive was capped off with a 3-yard pass touchdown to tie the game 7-7. After a Mt. SAC three and out, San Diego Mesa wasted no time in taking the lead with a four play 60-yard drive that culminated in a 1-yard run by Sammy Muniz. The Olympians would not relinquish the lead the rest of the game. The Mounties responded with a field goal to make the score 14-10.

San Diego Mesa’s kick returner Ranse Garner had a 43-yard return that set up the Olympians with good field position. Pisik looked comfortable in the pocket, completing short quick passes to drive San Diego Mesa down the field. The Mt. SAC defense failed to get a consistent pass rush on the quarterback and paid for the lack of pressure when Pisik threw a 26-yard strike to wide receiver Thomas Fishburne for a touchdown to extend the lead to 21-10.

The following Mountie drive netted only 6 yards as they went three and out again. Pisik continued to look comfortable throwing the ball, but the Mt. SAC defense managed to hold San Diego Mesa to only a field goal, keeping the Mounties within two scores.

Defensive back Tamaaulelei Ma’alona, linebacker Connor Helsius, defensive linemen Inoke Katoa and Tyrone Taleni surround San Diego Mesa Quarterback Joshua Pisik during the Saturday Nov. 9 game at Covina District Field. Photo by Mychal Corbin

With six minutes and 55 seconds left in the second quarter, Rachaad White reminded everyone why he is one of the top backs in the state. He led a one play drive that saw him elude would-be tacklers on his way to a 70-yard scamper for a touchdown to diminish San Diego Mesa’s lead to 24-17. The Mountie defense was able to force a punt on the next drive, but on the following Mt. SAC drive, running back Malaki Thompson coughed up the ball, and San Diego Mesa recovered the fumble on the Mountie 25-yard line.

On the extra possession, the Olympian offense once again stalled and actually lost yardage on the drive thanks in part to a holding penalty on their offense and had to punt the ball away. With under three minutes to go in the half, both defenses shut down their opposing offenses to end the half.

Both team’s defenses came out aggressive to start the second half. The Mounties defense vastly improved in the second half.

Mt. SAC defensive lineman Tevita Fuimaono said of the second half surge, “We just put our stuff together and we just did what our coaches said. We just put our trust into each other and we just do what we did.”

The coach’s second half adjustments certainly functioned. San Diego Mesa was no longer able to stand comfortably in the pocket, and they were only able to put up three points for the rest of regulation. Pressure was coming from the Mountie defenders on the edges, causing the Olympian offense to appear out of sync.

Unfortunately, the Mt. SAC offense was not performing much better. Quarterback Zach Rangel threw an interception to San Diego Mesa safety Jack Blanco on their second drive of the third quarter. As San Diego Mesa took over possession on their own 35-yard line, the Mt. SAC pass rush continued to disrupt the Olympian offense.

Defensive lineman Eucharise Brown sacked Pisik on second down and knocked the San Diego Mesa quarterback out for the rest of the game. Backup quarterback Thomas Fishburne came on in relief and finished the drive with a field goal to give them a 10-point lead (27-17).

Rachaad White again carried the load for the offense. He had rushes of 10 and 21 yards to help the Mounties get into field goal position and keep the game within one possession. With the score 27-20, Mt. SAC’s defense continued to be a handful, and forced a fumble that was recovered by Eucharise Brown at the San Diego Mesa 39-yard line.

The Mounties were not able to capitalize on the turnover after failing to convert on fourth down. The next time Mt. SAC’s offense got the ball, they were able to go 90 yards to the San Diego Mesa 2-yard line, but after again failing to convert on third and fourth down, the long drive came away with zero points.

Fortunately for the Mounties, they were able to get the ball back deep in their opponent’s territory after a blocked punt by Mt. SAC defensive back Mickael Johnson, but on the first play of the drive, quarterback Zach Rangel threw his second interception of the game to San Diego Mesa linebacker Isaiah Mitchell. That marked the third turnover given up by the Mounties. The interception seemed to seal the game for the Olympians with only four minutes to go in the game.

Just when it seemed like San Diego Mesa would run out the clock and win the game, the Mountie defense came up huge like they had all second half when they forced and recovered a fumble on the first play to swing momentum back in their favor. The Mounties had one final chance to tie the game they had been trailing since the first quarter.

The drive started out with four straight carries from Rachaad White, who was approaching 200 yards on the ground. Then with the clock winding down to under three minutes, Rangel threw a perfect pass toward the sideline to receiver Jonathan Schofield towards the sideline. It was an impressive catch from Schofield, who had to tiptoe to stay in bounds.

Schofield, with that catch, had amassed 162 yards receiving continuing his strong season. The Mounties needed only two more snaps to get into the end zone with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Rangel to fullback Yamar Woods. The extra point was good and Mt. SAC had rallied all the way back to tie the game at 27, all with 26 seconds left in regulation.

Wide receiver Jonathan Schofield mid-air with a catch on Covina District Field during home game against San Diego Mesa. Photo by Mychal Corbin

San Diego Mesa won the coin toss and chose to send out their defense first. The Mounties had all the momentum and adrenaline after forcing overtime and were looking to get the ball in the end zone.

After a couple rushes by White and incompletions by Rangel, the Mounties had to settle for a field goal and turn the game over to their defense. After back-to-back incompletions by San Diego Mesa, it was already third and ten.

Thomas Fishburne took the snap and was immediately pressured by Mt. SAC defenders. Fishburne eluded multiple tackles, preventing a sack that would have forced a very long and difficult field goal. He scrambled out to his left, and when he looked down the field, he found a wide open receiver in the end zone for a game winning touchdown.

The Mountie defense that kept making plays in the second half of the game had a missed assignment that sealed the win for San Diego Mesa. Even though the Mounties gained more yards and dominated time of possession, it still was not enough to complete the comeback.

Mt. SAC head coach Bob Jastrab spoke to SAC.Media after the game and said, “You talk about a game of inches, you could have had him for a big sack at the end of the game instead he gets loose; it’s a learning curve, and they got to deal with adversity.”

The 33-30 loss in overtime was another tough one for the Mt. SAC football program (6-3, 3-1). The Mountie’s three losses were by a combined eight points. Turnovers and little mistakes really hurt the Mountie’s chances to come out on top.

Rachaad White said postgame, “Big thing is everybody do what they are coached to do, we just have to be coachable, even me; little things make big things.”

The win streak ends at three, but the Mounties can still be conference champions with a win against Fullerton (5-4, 3-1) on Saturday.

Jastrab said, “Fullerton is a great football team, us and them have been the best teams in the last ten years record wise, and it’s going to be a dogfight.”

Offensive lineman Tavita Moe stands on Covina District Field after a 33-30 loss against San Diego Mesa Olympians on November 9. Photo by Mychal Corbin/SAC.Media

Offensive lineman Tavita Moe also reflected on the loss and commented on what the SACDAWGS must do to move forward.

“I just tell my boys, ‘Always give 100 percent.’ Everybody’s dropping their heads because we lost the game. Every game we lose, it hurts, but I always try to keep the positive side,” Moe said. “We still can make playoffs, we still can make state. I came up to my O-Lineman and told them it comes from the week of practice.”

Considering Fullerton beat San Diego Mesa 71-14, it will be a crucible for the Mounties that will test their character and grit.