By Bonta Hill
Coming off last season’s league championship, the Galileo Academy knows it is going to get every team’s best shot in Academic Athletic Association play.
Lowell was no different, as the Cardinals (0-5, 0-3) rushed 59 times for 275 yards and controlled the ball for over 30 minutes of game time, yet the Lions’ (4-3, 3-0) bend-don’t-break defense did just enough to hold off the visiting Cardinals 22-8 on Thursday.
“The whole week we were focused on being tougher than them, man-to-man,” said Galileo head coach Mark Huynh. “We got tough at the end and held on. It’s never easy playing Lowell.”
Galileo standout running back Quincy Nelson was held in check most of the day, but iced the game with a 33-yard fourth quarter touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The score capped a 15-play, 94-yard drive.
That left Lowell with seven minutes to rally from a 14-point deficit, which is not an easy task with its ball-control, double-wing offense.
Nelson finished the game with 119 yards on 22 carries.
“We knew they would have a good defense and I was very impressed by what they did defensively,” Nelson said. “I knew they would prepare for me and it’s good to have other weapons, so it worked out good.”
Lions quarterback Jonathan Lu and wide receiver Waynelle Buckner provided Nelson with the necessary help.
With 4:29 remaining in the first half, Lu dropped back from his own 49-yard line and heaved a pass down the right sideline that Buckner snatched and ran in for a touchdown to put the Lions ahead 14-8.
Lu would finish with 108 yards on 5-for-7 passing with a touchdown and interception and Buckner had three receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown.
“The coaches told us early in the week that we would [be] passing a little more than usual and we showed we can not only run, but pass when we want,” Lu said.
The turning point in the game, however, came late in the third quarter with the Lions clinging to a 14-8 lead.
In the midst of 17-play, 56-yard drive that started at the beginning of the third quarter and ate up nearly eight minutes of game time, Lowell came away empty as they had a golden opportunity to at least tie the game.
On fourth-and-one at the Galileo 8-yard line, Lowell wingback Kensie Lee, who led the Cardinals with 90 yards rushing on 15 carries, got tripped up just short of the first down marker.
Galileo would then go on its 15-play, 94 yard drive, and send Lowell back to the Sunset still winless.
Lowell head coach Danny Chan knew he had to keep the ball out of the hands of Galileo’s high-powered offense and felt his team accomplished that.
“We got them to play our game, which is ball control and to keep getting first downs,” Chan said. “It was demoralizing when we couldn’t convert on that long drive, but if we can build on this and keep getting better, we’ll be dangerous by the end of the year.”
As for the Lions, Huynh was happy with his team’s toughness late in the second half, as he felt his team started slowly.
“[Galileo assistant] coach Don Harris knew early on we weren’t staying on our blocks and we couldn’t get Quincy to break free, so we threw the ball a little,” Huynh said. “In the second half we wanted to be tougher, line up and run the ball. Quincy broke for that touchdown and the game was over.”
L: 1:42 — Brian Agnew 11-yard run (Kensie Lee run on conversion)
G: 8:56 — Erik Wilson 6-yard run (Conversion failed)
G: 4:25 — Waynelle Buckner 51-yard pass from Jonathan Lu (Quincy Nelson run on conversion)
G: 6:50 — Nelson 33-yard run (Lu run on conversion)