Spartans Lose Late Lead in 23-22 Setback

First published in the Oct. 14 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

La Cañada High School let an eight-point lead in the final quarter slip away as host South Pasadena rallied to score the game’s final nine points for a narrow 23-22 Rio Hondo League victory over the Spartans last Thursday evening.
The win improved the Tigers’ league record to 2-0 (4-3 overall). Meanwhile, the Spartans dipped to 0-2 in league (4-3 overall).
South Pasadena’s Aidan Kinney’s kicked an 18-yard field goal with 1:33 to play in the fourth quarter to provide the margin of victory.
The game was tied, 14-14, to start the action-packed fourth quarter. La Cañada’s Brandon Shepherd intercepted South Pasadena senior quarterback Noah Aragon’s pass and returned it 27 yards to the Tigers’ 33-yard line with 11:50 to play.
Two runs by La Cañada’s junior Corey Cheung resulted in the Spartans’ third touchdown, and Cheung successfully converted a two-point conversion for a 22-14 lead.
Shepherd logged a standout performance for the Spartans with a career-high 17 solo tackles (23 total). He also carried eight times for 68 yards.
“We ran the ball the best we have all year,” said Dave Avramovich, La Cañada’s head coach. “I thought Corey and Brandon did an incredible job controlling the game.”
Cheung had 18 carries for 113 yards. He also had four receptions for 21 yards in addition to two rushing touchdowns.
After recovering a fumble earlier in the fourth quarter, La Cañada attempted a field goal, which South Pasadena successfully blocked. Tigers’ senior Jack Riffle returned the block to La Cañada’s 10-yard line, setting up a touchdown pass from Aragon to teammate junior Nick Eshom with 6:38 to play. However, South Pasadena failed to convert a two-point conversion and remaining behind, 22-20, which set up Kinney’s deciding field goal.
South Pasadena was ahead 14-6 at halftime. With 58 seconds left in the third, after holding South Pasadena scoreless, Cheung ran in a 14-yard touchdown and converted a two-point play to tie the game, 14-14.
La Cañada’s Caleb Carruthers had a 25-yard rushing touchdown with 1:18 to play in the second quarter to get the scoring started for the Spartans. He ended the contest with four receptions for a team-high 77 yards and four total tackles (three solo, one assist).
LCHS sophomore quarterback Macky Plocher had 13 completions in 25 attempts for 150 yards.
Senior Jack Stroben had three receptions for 35 yards, while seniors Cole Stratton and Ian Phillips each caught one pass for 11 and six yards, respectively.
Senior Jamie Warner had a solid defensive outing with seven total tackles while junior Anthony Venneri added six, and both Stratton and junior Andrew Gevorgian recorded five.