Glendora, CA - The Citrus College Football team snapped a three game losing streak on Saturday evening to nearby rival Chaffey College. The Owls rallied from down a field goal in the final four minutes of the game, and then scored on their first possession in overtime to upset the pre-season State #14 Panthers 48-41.
It was a wild affair that went back and forth all evening, but didn't really get going until the opening minutes of the second quarter. Chaffey would draw first blood with a pick six from the Citrus 15 yard line that gave them an early 6-0 lead. After the disappointment of how they gave up the initial score, the Owls offense rallied by scoring 21 unanswered points.
The first Citrus touchdown of the game came on a one-yard TD plunge by sophomore Lawon Carney that capped a five play 32 yard drive and gave Citrus a 7-6 advantage. The Owls would add to the lead in the waning seconds of the first half when freshman running back Devin Floyd finished off a four play 72 yard drive, with a three-yard TD carry that made it 14-6 as the game went into the break.
The Owls would keep their momentum moving forward to open the second half, when sophomore quarterback Brian Meyette found a huge hole to the right of the line and scampered for a 42 yard score that made it 21-6. Chaffey started to get their act together on offense shortly thereafter scoring on a big 64 yard touchdown run, but the Owls didn't shy away as sophomore Gino Mastandrea got the Owls back on course with a 97 yard kick-off return for a touchdown on the ensuing kick-off to make it 28-13.
After finding success on the ground in their previous possession, Chaffey began to pound the rock scoring on two straight possessions to pull within two points at 26-28 towards the end of the third quarter. The Owls would come out and strike in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, after Meyette connected with sophomore Manuel Lua for a 25-yard score that made it 35-26. Chaffey answered right back with a score of their own to make it 33-35 with 9:55 to go.
Freshman kicker Carlos Benites would give the Owls a little breathing room with a 33 yard field goal, but Chaffey would land a big blow with a 99 yard kick-off return that gave the Panthers their first lead since their first score of the game. Trailing 41-38 with 4:46 on the clock, Citrus took 13 plays to drive 59 yards, setting up a 26 yard field goal attempt by Benites to send the game into overtime. With no timeouts left and the clock ticking down, Benites and co drilled the kick with three seconds left, sending the game into overtime.
The Owls would get the ball to start overtime, and Citrus would need just three plays to find the end zone. Carney would give the Owls a touchdown lead after running the ball in from seven yards out to make it 48-41. Needing a stop, the Citrus defense put together arguably it's best stand since early in the game.
After giving up a first down two plays in, the Owls held the Panthers to a no-gain on a rush, forced an incomplete attempt into the end zone that was broken up by sophomore Michael Orantes Jr., and then got a sack by freshman Seth Haynes to force a fourth and long. In an obvious passing situation, the Owls got a great push at the line and flushed the Chaffey quarterback from the pocket. The quarterback heaved a desperate attempt to try and avoid the sack, but sophomore linebacker Ryan Rodriguez was there to bat the pass down, preserving the win for Citrus.
In the win, Citrus was led by Meyettee who finished 22 for 38 for 301 yards passing. Mastandrea hauled in seven passes for 105 yards, while sophomore Andre Long caught five balls for 74 yards. On defense, Haynes led all tacklers with 17 total tackles, followed closely by freshman Henry Pigee's 12 tackles.
With the win, Citrus improves to 1-0 on the year. The Owls will be back in action on Saturday night when they travel to take on Santa Ana College for a 6:00 PM showdown.