Tristen Alesi sat thinking of the catch he missed. As the ball fell to the ground, so ended Torrey Pines’ season and hopes of a victory over El Camino in the CIF quarter finals.
Never mind that Alesi took crushing hits as the ball arrived from not one but two Wildcat defenders to shake the ball loose. Never mind that he was left flat in the end zone tended by the trainers for long minutes afterward. If only he had managed to hang onto the ball, the Falcons would have had another last-minute win in their season of clutch victories, like 17-13 over El Camino in the regular season in the final seconds.
But the Falcons were in the position to win with that pass thanks to Alesi’s outstanding rushing for 47 yards and catching passes for 123 yards. He was a big part of the reason the Falcons were in the playoffs, with plenty of help from his teammates like Matthew Feeler who rushed for 64 yards, and made key catches and first downs.
In the regular season game, Michael Gadinis caught pass after pass including a last-second game-winning toss. So El Camino had him double covered, which left holes for Falcon running backs and receivers.
On their first series, the Falcons looked unstoppable with Alesi, Feeler, and Duerr picking up big gains, but the drive stalled on the Wildcat 30 where they turned the ball over on downs.
After appearing to go 3 and out, the Wildcat punter took the snap and ran for a first down. The drive was capped by a 37-yard touchdown run for the game’s first score.
In the second quarter, Alesi caught a pass and ran 50 yards to the Wildcat 21 for a Luc D’Arcy field goal to make it 7-3. Falcon Ty Helfrich, in at quarterback, ran 18 yards to the Wildcat 33, then Jacob Montes and Duerr carried for another first down at the 23. A lost fumble ended the Falcon threat and El Camino threatened in turn until Alesi picked off a Wildcat pass on the 9 as the half ended.
Torrey Pines faced third and 22 from their 24 when Kelley hit Alesi, who ran all the way to the 3, but the Falcons couldn’t punch it in.
El Camino took over on their 1 foot line, and on third and 9, Chris Brown popped through for a 98-yard touchdown run to go ahead 14-3.
The Falcons came back with Alesi running for 30 yards, first and goal at the 5. The Wildcats pushed Torrey Pines back to third and goal at the 19, then Kelley found O’Brien in the end zone for the touchdown; 14-10.
Torrey Pines’ defense held the Wildcats on tackles by Feeler and Kim Murray. The Falcons drove from their 39 to fourth and goal at the Wildcat 3, turning it over on the incomplete pass.
Though all the Falcons on the field and in the stands wished for one more last-minute come-from-behind win, we never lacked for exciting football this year.