BURBANK- Normally in football if your running back scores five touchdowns and accounts for almost 300 yards in total offense, as Bellarmine-Jefferson senior Josh Martinez did in the Guards’ nonleague contest against visiting Chadwick Saturday night, your team wins the game. However, there was nothing normal about Saturday night’s game at Burroughs Memorial Stadium, as Bellarmine-Jefferson let a 16-point second-half advantage slip away, only to regain the lead before losing, 50-44.
“They made plays and we didn’t. Plain and simple,” first-year Bell-Jeff coach David Machuca said after the tough loss.
The Guards (1-3) saw their lead peak at 38-22 with 9:50 left in the third quarter when Martinez scored from six yards out for his fourth rushing touchdown of the game. After that, the Dolphins scored the next three touchdowns, totaling 20 points. Peter Mavredakis had scoring runs of six yards and one yard to account for the first and third scores in the Chadwick (3-1) run, which ended with a 42-38 lead for the visitors.
The middle score was an odd one. Chadwick quarterback Cole Freeman, who had three touchdown passes in the first half, targeted Cameron Bartlett in the end zone, even though he was tightly covered by Bell-Jeff’s Noah DeCorsi. DeCorsi leapt up and cleanly intercepted the pass, landing on both feet in the end zone. The junior stayed upright and started to move as if he was planning on bringing the ball out for a chance at a return, but the ball popped loose. Several players dove for the ball, but it was Bartlett who recovered it for a touchdown.
“It was a great effort on both sides. You name it, it happened. I couldn’t even tell you half the stuff that happened,” Chadwick coach Gary Willison said.
After Chadwick had taken the lead with 8:35 left, Bell-Jeff marched down the field 65 yards to take it back, thanks mainly to the efforts of its quarterback Johnathan Porter. The Guards were facing a third down and 19 yards to go at their own 37-yard line when Porter dropped back to pass. Finding no open receivers, the sophomore pulled the ball down and zig-zagged his way up field for a 24-yard gain and a first down. The Guards took the lead back with 5:17 left when Porter threw a strike, as he was being hit hard by two Dolphin pass rushers, over the middle to Martinez for a 17-yard touchdown. After Bell-Jeff failed on the run for the two-point conversion, they clung to a 44-42 advantage.
Chadwick usually lined up on the ball, but still took their time getting the play in from the sideline and often sent in late subs. While this seemed to hurt them in the first half, by the second half the consistent, quick pace of the attack appeared to wear the Bell-Jeff defense down. Mavredakis rumbled up the middle, shedding multiple would-be tacklers for a 25-yard rushing touchdown with 1:37 left to seize back the lead once again. The Guards got the ball once more but could do nothing with it.
In the loss, Martinez put up monster numbers. The senior led the Guards in both rushing and receiving. He ran 20 times for 148 yards and four touchdowns. He caught seven passes for 137 yards and the one touchdown. Also, Martinez accounted for all 14 of his team’s first-quarter points. His three-yard touchdown run started the scoring, and he added a 48-yard scoring run with 3:23 left while also running in the two-point conversion that followed.
“I thought we played good, but obviously not good enough to win the game,” Machuca, whose team plays Pasadena Poly next Friday night at South Pasadena High School, said. “We had a good game plan. [Chadwick] just didn’t give up. They’ve got a good team over there.”