Olympians Lose Overtime Thriller to Mt. San Antonio

Ian Caffarel, Staff Writer

Mesa’s Olympians entered their fourth home game of the season, hoping to break a four-game losing streak–including back-to-back blowout road losses–against Mt. San Antonio’s Mounties in their second conference home game of the season. It was very entertaining from start to finish, but once again, for the fifth straight week, it was the Olympians who would come up empty, this time in a 41-35 overtime matchup. Don’t be fooled by the score; it was a tough defensive slugfest throughout much of regulation, with most of the scoring being after it went into the extra sessions.


The game started off with the Mounties receiving the kickoff, then losing a fumble in their own territory. Mesa took the ball, and got well into the red zone; rather than settle for a field goal, they instead opted to go for it on fourth down, a decision that nearly backfired when quarterback Jake Dunninway was intercepted by the Mounties’ Ibrahim Konate who returned it well into Mesa territory, only for a penalty to bring the issue back to the visitors’ 5; their drive stalled, then Mesa’s special teams came up early, blocking the punt and Cade Weaver recovering in the end zone to put the Olympians on the board. The Mounties then fumbled on their next possession–again–and then both teams traded three-and-outs; then Mounties quarterback Dylan Flenniken put together a 13-play, 93-yard drive, aided by several Mesa penalties, that used up 7:02 of the clock in order to tie the game with a 26-yard pass to wide receiver Joe Schofield, with each team going into halftime with seven points apiece.


Going into the third quarter, the Olympians took the second half kickoff and went well into Mountie territory, but the drive stalled and kicker Justin Kaplan nailed a 33-yard field goal to give Mesa a three-point lead. The Mounties got the kickoff with good field position, and capitalized with Flenniken’s second touchdown pass of the evening, this time to Chris Jackson, which–after a failed point after–gave them a 13-10 lead. Mesa marched straight back and tied it up with a 26-yard Kaplan field goal, but the Mounties responded with a drive that went through the remainder of the third quarter, ending with a Flenniken two-yard rush early in the fourth to put the visitors up by seven. After a Mesa punt, followed by a Mt. San Antonio fumble, Dunninway found Dejon Smith from 36 yards out to tie things up once again. This was followed by the Mounties failing on fourth down, then each team trading punts, the Olympians drove to the Mounties’ 22-yard line to set up Kaplan for a game-winning field goal, but the Mounties called a timeout to “ice” him, and the kick was blocked, sending the game into overtime.


In overtime, both teams traded touchdowns on their opening possessions; Mesa, on their next possession, got to the Mounties’ 20, but Kaplan missed from 37 yards out, keeping the scores at 27 each. After going through a scoreless second overtime, the story was repeated in the third overtime, then in the fourth, the same thing happened again, with both teams going for two points; in the fifth, Mt. San Antonio’s Rachaad White ran it in from five yards out, ending the game.


After the game, everyone was upset, but no one more so than Justin Kaplan, whose missed 40-yard try would have won the game. During the changeover, some of the team tried to lift him up; “You’re gonna have to go out there again!” “Just relax, man. It happens.” Those were just some of the words of support people gave him.


Mesa will conclude their season at home on November 10, against Palomar.