Football: Lincoln edges Mission in Turkey Day thriller

Lincoln junior running back Tyree Marzetta breaks through the Mission defensive line for the game-winning two-point conversion on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Eric Sun)

Lincoln junior running back Tyree Marzetta breaks through the Mission defensive line for the game-winning two-point conversion on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Eric Sun)

By Jeremy Balan

The Academic Athletic Association football championship ultimately came down to 3 yards on Thursday at Kezar Stadium and Lincoln didn’t have its best player on the field.

After scoring with 23 seconds remaining to cut Mission’s lead to 21-20, Lincoln head coach Phil Ferrigno elected to go for a two-point conversion and the win.

With standout senior running back Demetrius Williams on the sideline – gassed from a 29-carry, 147 yard rushing performace – the Mustangs handed the ball to tailback Tyree Marzetta.

The junior, Williams’ backup all season, followed linemen Justin Lee, Kevin Lo and tight end Joshua Bonse-Davis into the end zone for the game-winning conversion to seal a 22-21 Lincoln win.

“Tyree told me, ‘I got you. I got some fresh legs and I’m going to get it. Don’t worry about it baby, just sit down,'” Williams said. “I prayed on the sideline, looked up and he was in there.”

Mission senior quarterback Antoine Porter sets to send a throw into the Lincoln secondary on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Eric Sun)

Marzetta ran for 56 yards on 10 carries, but none were as important as the final conversion, and the moment was not lost on the junior. On his way back to the Lincoln sideline, tears of joy were streaming down his face.

“It means a lot to me,” Marzetta said. “Coach Ferrigno came to me in a tight spot and had faith in me to put it away. After I scored, I was just in shock. I didn’t think I would be a go-to guy like that. My emotions overwhelmed me.”

The conversion capped a last-gasp drive that started at the Mustangs’ 44-yard line after Mission (7-4) took a 21-14 lead with 3:21 left.

A negative-yardage rushing play and an incompletion had the Mustangs (11-1) facing third-and-13 on their own 41-yard line, when senior quarterback Derek Morrell hit junior wide receiver Joshua Burnoski for a 40-yard gain. Mission defensive back Ronald Murillo made a touchdown-saving tackle, but the Mustangs were in the red zone.

“It was torture, especially after we came back,” Mission head coach Joe Albano said of the final moments. “On third and long, I thought we had it. Then they get that pass.”

Three plays later, Williams earned a first down with a 9-yard run to the Mission 9-yard line, but the Bears’ defense stiffened. Williams was stopped short of the goal line on the next two rushes, then Marzetta was stopped at the 1-yard line to force a fourth-and-goal situation.

Without a timeout remaining, the Mustangs rushed to the line of scrimmage and Morrell snuck into the end zone.

“That was fourth down? I wasn’t even paying attention to that,” Morrell said. “I was just thinking about scoring.”

Ferrigno said he did not hesitate to go for the win rather than attempt an extra point that likely would have sent the game into overtime.

“I asked them and they all wanted to do it,” Ferrigno said. “I’m down with that . . . I didn’t want to see Porter again in overtime.”

Ferrigno had reason to worry, because Mission quarterback Antoine Porter owned the second half.

Lincoln senior running back Demetrius Williams breaks away from a Mission defender on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Eric Sun)

With the Mustangs leading 14-0 early in the third quarter and driving on the first possession of the second half, momentum swung abruptly in the Bears’ direction when Mission senior Armani McFarland intercepted Morrell with Lincoln on the Bears’ 11-yard line.

Porter then took the next snap in the shotgun, immediately broke forward, cut to the Mission sideline, broke a tackle and outran the rest of the Lincoln defense for a 86-yard score.

Lincoln again drove deep into Mission territory on the ensuing drive, but again was stopped by the Bears’ defense, this time on a turnover on downs at the Mission 17-yard line.

“We’re a good football team,” Albano said. “We just decided we wanted to be part of this game and not let them take the game like they did last time. We just sucked it up and played [defense].”

Porter then led the Bears on a 17-play scoring drive, but the touchdown came with a stroke of luck.

Porter gave the Bears a first down with a 3-yard run on fourth-and-1 from the Lincoln 4-yard line, but the Mustangs stuffed Mission on the first two downs from a yard out, then a fumbled snap pushed the Bears back to the 4-yard line. Visibly exhausted and battling cramps, Porter got the call on fourth down, but the Mustangs stopped him again at the 1-yard line – except this time, he fumbled into the end zone. Mission junior Dreon McElroy pounced on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown, and with 6:48 remaining, the Mustangs’ two-score halftime lead was erased.

“Once we scored that first touchdown, we just had momentum and we just believed,” Porter said.

The Bears continued to ride that momentum on the next Lincoln drive, forcing a fumble they recovered on the Mustangs’ 41-yard line.

Porter scampered 25 yards on the next play, then McFarland scored four plays later on a 3-yard run to give the Bears an improbable 21-14 lead.

Lincoln’s final score ended what would have been a storybook ending for the Bears and Porter’s magic ran out on Mission’s final drive, when receiver Alex Tico’s last-ditch lateral attempt hit the Kezar turf as time expired, after a 23-yard completion from Porter.

“It hurts more, because it’s just one point,” Porter said. “If it was seven points or a blowout or anything else – it was just so close. That’s what hurts the most – just one point.”

Porter finished with 164 yards on 14-of-23 passing and a game-high 156 yards rushing on 20 carries. He accounted for 320 of the Bears’ 363 yards of total offense and earned the respect of the Lincoln sideline.

“They fought, they came back and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Williams said. “I give them all the credit, especially [Porter]. He fought like a man. He didn’t put his head down. He fought.”

The Mustangs waited until the final moments to score their only second-half touchdown and were outgained in total yardage by the Bears, but only the final result mattered for Ferrigno.

“They started getting momentum, but all I can say is, hey, we won the game,” Ferrigno said. “It was a great football game. I can’t say anything more. They played hard, we played hard – back and forth. Two minutes left and we scored. What else can you ask for?”

Scoring Summary

Second Quarter
L: 7:28 – Demetrius Williams 26-yard run (kick failed)
L: 1:05 – Da’vion Telfor 68-yard pass from Derek Morrell (Tyree Marzetta run on conversion)

Third Quarter
M: 7:44 – Antoine Porter 86-yard run (kick blocked)

Fourth Quarter
M: 6:48 – Dreon McElroy fumble recovery (Armani McFarland pass from Porter on conversion)
M: 3:41 – McFarland 3-yard run (Peter Lee kick)
L: 0:23 – Morrell 1-yard run (Marzetta run on conversion)

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23 Comments on "Football: Lincoln edges Mission in Turkey Day thriller"

  1. It was a fantastic game that will be remembered for years to come. I was rooting for mission so I was disappointed by the finish, but its high school sports and you have to feel good for both sides.

  2. Those two touchdown passes caught by Demitrius Thibeaux that was called back on those phony pass the line of scrimmage killed the momentum for the bears. I personally did not agree with those calls but then again its the AAA, good game I give both team credit.

    • The first one wasn’t even close, about 3 yards past the line of scrimmage. The second one was much closer.

    • On both plays the referee went to the spot where the ball was thrown from, and then looked at the far side line where the line of scrimmage was marked, and then dropped the flag.

      It was very clear, that he was checking for an illegal forward pass, but was not sure if it was, until he checked the down marker.

      • Agreed. Against Lowell, Porter threw a TD on a similar scramble, seemingly inches from breaching the line of scrimmage.

        • er, I meant, against Galileo two weeks ago, after the high snap on the botched punt.
          It’s late. Goodnight!

    • Airwings,

      Your opinion is noted but the referee can only judge at that point in time. The way I looked at it was that Lincoln’s defense reacted to the QB scrambling and that’s why Thibeaux was open. In fact, fans around me were wondering why the QB didn’t just rush ahead as it looked like he had open space in front of him both times.

  3. That was a great game! One of the best that my father and I have been to in the past 8 years. Those two illegal forward passes accounted for momentum changing sides because of the points they took away from Mission. Another comment said Porter should have run on those plays and I agree he was cleared to pick up big chunks of yardage if he had pulled the ball down and ran with it. On his long touchdown run, his speed was flat out amazing. Congrats to Lincoln for having the guts to put it all on the line to go for the win. What a way for the game to finish!

    • I think going for 2 was the only choice Lincoln had. Lincoln’s kicker already missed a PAT, and very easily could’ve missed another PAT, especially with tons of pressure on his shoulders. I’m just guessing, but it seems like 2-point conversions hit at an 85% rate while PAT’s hit at 50% in the AAA. That’s why most AAA teams go for 2.

      • Re-read the article; they literally had a choice:
        ““I asked them and they all wanted to do it,” Ferrigno said.”

  4. it was an exciting game. best high school game i watched in awhile. the bears showed great heart & so did lincoln. But when you are up a TD w/ 2 mins left in the game, you kick the ball down the field and not give the team the ball @ the 50 yard line. But oh well!! still a fantastic game. See you again next year!!!

  5. actually the tday was down to the wire ..but i truly believe if mission would ve open up the passing earlier the lincoln wouldnt of been able to stop mission..also mission# 7 was open through out the whole game but was ignored !! #6 lincoln was playing ten yards back from #7 honestly he had the best hands when the ball was thrown to him…it was awesome game…miss tackles hurt mission too

    • D.Williams can play 10 yards deep on anyone and not get burned if they pass to his man.
      He’s one of the best pass-defenders in the Section, and, iirc, he was Lincoln’s leading tackler this year.

  6. Best Turkey Day game I’ve ever seen! What a fantastic finish! Antoine Porter is a man and he’s one of the best I’ve seen. What a performance.

    Cudos to Coach Ferrigno and the Mustang squad. Your discipline paid off!

    McFarland and Porter, what a combination! Porter’s 86 yard TD run was a thing of beauty! I really enjoyed this game and I’ve been going to T-day games since 1966.

    Porter, don’t hang your head, you did everything you could. I loss my last game in the ’74 Turkey Day game 7-6 to Galileo. I was the QB too! We went for 2 and didn’t get it! It stays with you forever! Just know that you tried your best son. I’m sure they’ll be more days for you at the next level.

    Congratulations to both teams on a magnificent effort.

  7. BTW – as I don’t really watch the teams play during the regular season…..

    Why did the teams kick making those super short kickoffs? Were they afraid of long run backs or something? It was really unusual to someone who only watches NFL football. :)

    • Porter was back deep for Mission and Williams was deep for Lincoln.

      I think both coaches did not want his opponent’s deep players to handle the ball.

    • MIssion were keeping it away from D.Williams.

      afaict, Lincoln didn’t have anyone with a strong, reliable foot; they missed at least one PAT in their last 7 games, including Turkey Day.

  8. Those were just my opinions of the two calls that screwed Mission, but it was a hell of a game. I also agreebwith Dknocks that #7 (Demitrius Thibeaux) had the best hands on Mission an Porter should of ulizied him more I see him getting reciever of the year. Mission had a good team this season I wonder how they will deal with all the losses they will lose since half of the players were all seniors.

    • What they could really use for next year would be a couple more assistant coaches, plus a couple more managers and asst. trainers.
      Joe Albano has his hands full, and has done a great job though understaffed.

  9. It was a great game.
    I cringed, though, when Mission went for the extra-point instead of 2 after their last TD.
    It left the door open for exactly what transpired: Lincoln winning it on their 2 instead of just tying the game.
    Oh, well.

    • You gotta kick the PAT there to force Lincoln’s hand. Otherwise, if Mission were to miss the 2-point conversion, Lincoln would only need an extra point to win.

  10. Was rooting for mission, good job to lincoln though. Galileo undefeated next season + turkey day champions

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