The Night Yucaipa Beat Cajon in 4OT

REWIND: A look back at Yucaipa’s late win over San Bernardino Cajon on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016.

By HARVEY KAHN
Featured Writer / HarveyMKahn@aol.com

YUCAIPA (CALIF.) — In a contest that lasted 3-plus hours, four overtimes and 12 two-point conversions, it boiled down to Yucaipa converting the only traditional extra-point try.

Nathan Martinez passed for four touchdowns and ran for two more as the Thunderbirds came from behind to defeat San Bernardino Cajon, 61-60, in a four-overtime Citrus Belt League thriller on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016.

The most dramatic game of the season turned on its head when Yucaipa’s Josh Torrance was able to stop Tre Wellmaker’s two-point conversion attempt one foot from the goal line in overtime No. 4. The Thunderbirds proceeded to tie the game on a Martinez TD pass and win it on Evan Meador’s kick.

“Just get me the ball in the hands of No. 3 (Martinez). He’s going to make plays,” Yucaipa coach Justin Price said. “This win keeps our hopes alive for a league championship.”

Yucaipa (6-1, 3-1) was 6-for-6 on two-conversion attempts. Cajon (5-2, 3-1) was good on only 6 of 8.

“We knew coming in that it would be a very tough and physical game,” Cajon sophomore QB Jayden Daniels said. “I learned you can’t overlook any opponent.”

The game was quietly tied 6-6 at the half.

A blocked punt recovered in the end zone had Cajon with a seemingly comfortable 22-6 lead with nine minutes left in the 4th quarter, but over the next 8 minutes, 24 seconds, Yucaipa’s Martinez ran for a 49 yard touchdown and threw for touchdowns of 37 and 29 yards, both to Gavin Norris and the last with 10 seconds left to tie the game, 30-30, in regulation.

Martinez’ fourth TD pass was for 25 yards to Jacob Barriga to make it 46-46 in overtime No. 2, and Martinez ran for his second touchdown to give YHS a 54-46 lead in overtime No. 3. The senior QB then found Norris for a 15-yard touchdown on eventual game-winner in overtime No. 4.

Martinez passed for five conversions and ran for two more. After a 6-for-17 (54 yards) first-half start, he finished 22-for-44 for 273 yards.

Neither team was able hold the other scoreless after four possessions of overtime.

Wellmaker was nearly unstoppable until Torrance’s tackle. In overtime, Wellmaker rushed for two touchdowns and three two-point conversions. With 2:20 left in the first quarter, Wellmaker gave Cajon a 6-0 lead with a two-yard run.

Nicholas Wilson was the leading force in the game, rushing 26 times for 252 yards with two of his four scoring runs coming in OT. He had 204 yards by halftime, most of which on 49-yard touchdown run and another 48-yard burst.

“Did you see the size of their offensive line? We couldn’t get by them,” Price said. “Linebacker Matt Best had to blitz 15 straight plays. We went from dropping passes and bad snaps to finally coming alive when we needed to.”

Despite Best’s game-high 22 tackles, Daniels finished with 127 yards passing on 18-of-24 efficiency. His one interception came on the game’s opening drive when Yucaipa’s Asani Hampton made a touchdown-saving snag at the 3-yard line. Daniels added 130 yards rushing on 20 carries.

“I thought we had them at 22-6 and then when I scored, I thought it was in the book,” Daniels said.

Cajon’s Aaron Ortega also admitted thinking they had the game won.

“We had some breakdowns and didn’t make some good choices,” said Ortega, a senior who led Cajon to a 31-14 win at Yucaipa last season. “Yucaipa has all its starters back and has good chemistry.”

Notes: Wellmaker rushed for 53 yards, three TDs and three two-pointers, and caught nine passes for 74 yards. … Norris had nine receptions for 138 yards, three TDs and two two-pointers. … Torrance had four punts downed inside the 11-yard line. … Martinez gained 73 rushing yards. … Kendall Johnson had 12 carries for 74 yards and one TD.

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