Olympians fumble away chance at upset bid

Jimmy Spillane, Staff Writer

Mt. San Jacinto defeated San Diego Mesa College 31-21on Sept. 29 behind a flurry of fumbles by the Olympians that constantly gave the opposition the advantage.

Mesa came into the game looking for a defining victory in league play and seized the momentum early on from the undefeated Eagles. Mesa quarterback Joe Kennedy scored on a 1-yard run to give the Olympians the early lead in the 2nd quarter 14-7.

Unfortunately for Mesa, this would be the last time they would have the lead in the game.

Mt San Jacinto regained the momentum with a 68-yard punt was returned for a touchdown by Michael Harrison putting them up 17-14. On Mesa’s ensuing drive, a fumbled snap was recovered by Mt. San Jacinto at the Olympians 26 yard line.

The next play was the most crucial of the game and it was evident that the football gods were not with Olympians on this given night. A pass that was deflected by Mesa defensive back Shamir Lipscomb ricocheted into the awaiting arms of Mt. San Jacinto’s Bryce Hintz for the touchdown.

When asked about the play, Lipscomb said, “ it was bad luck, I should have dove and knocked it down.” This brought the score of the game to 24-14 with time remaining in the half.

The string of negative plays continued when tight end Francisco Robledo-Yanez fumbled to end the first half. Head Coach Henry Browne’s opinion of what went wrong in the 2nd quarter was “ the kicking game, the punt return for a touchdown miscues by us that had drives inside our own 10 yard line. It has to be a positive not a negative, our mistakes helped them score 17 points.”

Mt. San Jacinto’s defense was stingy all night as they sacked Kennedy 7 times. When it looked as though the Olympians had a chance to build momentum in a drive, an Eagle defender would come up with a big play.

With a non-eventful 3rd quarter, the 4th opened up with Mt. San Jacinto’s offense driving down the field on the Mesa defense. The Eagles converted multiple 3rd downs in the series which brought the ball to the Olympians 20 yard line. With the score 24-14, Mt. San Jacinto attempted to put the game out of reach by going for it on 4th down but failing the conversion.

Mesa had the momentum on their side for the first time since the 2nd quarter and had plenty of time to put together a strong drive. The Olympians seemed to be clicking on all cylinders offensively mixing solid runs and passes. With the ball at the Mt. San Jacinto 20 yard line, another Mesa turnover ended what became a positive drive and consequently the game. Kennedy said of the fumbles, “ both were mixed signals as we were switching plays. Every drive is important, we can’t afford to give the ball up like that.”

Mt. San Jacinto quickly answered with a long run and a touchdown pass to put the game out of reach.

A bright spot for the Mesa offense was when they got a touchdown grab by wide receiver Jay Waddell. With 5 seconds to go Kennedy lofted a ball deep into the end zone where Waddell corkscrewed his body to make the acrobatic catch.

The Olympians can use that momentum going into the next game and if they limit the mistakes, they can play with anybody. Mesa is now 2-3, 1-1 in the American Mountain Conference. Mesa’s next home game is “Homecoming,” Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. against Victor Valley.