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Coronado edges Mitchell 21-16 behind fourth-quarter rally
Coronado quarterback Joah Smith knew the blitz was coming before the snap Saturday night against Mitchell with the Cougars trailing by a point with less than 1:30 remaining.
Yet what he didn’t expect was to have an untouched Mitchell linebacker driving him backward seconds after he took the snap at the Marauders 10-yard line.
Somehow, someway, Smith used every inch of his upper body strength to shed the bull-rushing blitzer before evading a slew of defenders along the sideline and connecting with Joseph Stringer for the go-ahead touchdown in a wild, come-from-behind 21-16 victory at Garry Barry Stadium.
“Usually our inside lineman blocks down on that,” Smith said. “He missed his assignment and the guy came in. I was just doing whatever I could to get away from him and it worked out for the best.”
It was Smith’s second touchdown pass in a wild 2 minutes and 13 seconds as Coronado (3-3, 1-0 3A South Central) rallied from a late 16-7 fourth-quarter deficit against the Marauders (2-4, 0-1).
“There was a lot of tension in the huddle and you just have to break it up and tell them it’s time to go. We have to do this,” Smith said.
The 6-foot-1 quarterback first hit receiver Antwan Outlaw for a 66-yard touchdown on a quick slant with 3:38 remaining. Zeb Foster then ran in the ensuing 2-point conversion to make it 16-15 before sophomore Austin Micci recovered an onside kick.
“They were just leaving me one-on-one with a lot of room inside,” Outlaw said. “So (Smith) called the play and I caught it. We execute and we score.”
Smith and Outlaw (three receptions for 103 yards) opened the game’s scoring in the first quarter on another slant for 27 yards.
For the second straight week Coronado — a winless program in 2011, 2009 and 2008 — pulled off a victory in the final minutes. This time coach Bobby Lizarraga said the win belong to Smith.
“The victory is his,” Lizarraga said. “Obviously it is a team victory. They didn’t quit and kept battling to the end but he made that last play happen. He has the heart of a Cougar.”
Outlaw added, “He is an amazing player and I am lucky to have him on my team. He is just the best.”
Smith finished 6-of-11 for 135 yards and three touchdowns.
It appeared Mitchell was on its way to victory when Aaron Wright broke free for a 62-yard touchdown scamper up the middle to give the Marauders a 16-7 lead with 7:54 remaining. It was a vindication run of sorts for Wright after the junior fumbled twice earlier and dropped a sure touchdown pass with less than a minute remaining in the first half. He finished with 144 yards on 24 carries for his sixth consecutive 100-plus rushing game.
However, Smith and the Cougars remained strong amid adversity.
“The kids just played their hearts off. They left everything on the field,” Lizarraga said. “They don’t skip a beat. They never quit and continue to believe to the very last second.”