By Zack Farmer
Good things come to those who wait and the Balboa High School football team waited until the final two minutes of Saturday’s Academic Athletic Association game against visiting Washington to score two touchdowns, giving the Bucs a 21-9 win, their first victory of the season.
“That win is on these guys,” said Balboa head coach Alvaro Carvajal. “They found a way to get it done.”
Washington (1-5, 1-2) got inside the Balboa 30-yard line during their only two possessions of the second half but failed to score on either drive.
During one of those possessions that spanned much of the fourth quarter, Washington caught a break when an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called on Carvajal.
“I put my guys in a bad position by getting into it with the officials,” Carvajal said. “I am proud of the way they held their ground and kept fighting.”
Washington got the ball down to the Balboa 13-yard line, but failed to make a field goal that would have extended its lead to 12-7.
Trailing 9-7 and faced a 4th-and-11 situation on its own 34-yard line with less than two minutes left, Balboa quarterback Eli Smoot heaved a pass downfield that was caught by James Woods. The junior receiver bounced off multiple would-be tacklers and dashed 66 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
Senior running back Antoine Crecy swept to the right for the two-point conversion, putting the Buccaneers up 15-9 with 1:53 remaining.
“We just knew we couldn’t give up,” Smoot said. “We had to make the plays and we did . . . We were picked last in the City by almost everybody. We knew we weren’t the last team in the City. We knew we were as good as anybody else.”
Looking for the dagger, the Buccaneers (1-4, 1-1) attempted an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff and Balboa’s Kiet Nguyen recovered the ball, giving possession back to the Bucs with 1:38 left.
Washington, which had only two timeouts remaining, had to prevent a Balboa first down to have a chance. Crecy took command and a five-yard rush up the middle gave Balboa that first down, icing the game. Crecy then capped the scoring with 34-yard touchdown run with 20 seconds left and finished with 125 yards on 19 carries.
“You play football for 47 and [a] half minutes and those 30 seconds caught up,” said Washington head coach Taylan Plasch. “We didn’t play hard and they scored. That’s what happens.”
Washington let a golden opportunity slip away early in the first quarter after stripping the ball from Smoot to take over possession on the Balboa 28-yard line. The Eagles pushed the ball to the 8-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs.
But a Balboa miscue led to Washington points.
On the first play of the ensuing possession, a snap flew over the head of Smoot and he picked the ball up in the end zone and was shoved out of bounds for a safety, giving Washington a 2-0 lead.
The Eagles’ lone touchdown came in the second quarter, when Washington quarterback Simon Ma evaded a sack and threw across the field to find Ricky Lee Johnson for a 22-yard touchdown.
W: 5:38 – Safety
B: 9:31 – Antoine Crecy 7-yard run (Kendrick Martin kick)
W: 4:07 – Ricky Lee Johnson 22-yard pass from Simon Ma (Mondo Bayasqalon kick)
B: 1:53 – James Wood 66-yard pass from Eli Smoot (Crecy run on conversion)
B: 0:20 – Crecy 34-yard run (kick blocked)