A tornado touched down in West Covina in the form of No. 5, Reggie Turner as the senior running back engulfed every Bulldog defender in his path on his way to scoring five touchdowns and leading Bonita to an impressive 38-21 victory over the two-time defending champions.
Credit the fired-up, high-pressure Bonita defense, led by Thomas Loy, Nick Montoya, Joey Hubbard, Spencer Hoff, DJ Theard, Christian McQueen, Austin Russell, Danny Gelalich, Brandt Davis and a suffocating host of other Gang Green members for getting Turner the ball early and often.
“I think our defense really dialed in on the game plan,” said Bonita head coach Adrian Medrano. “West Covina is going to pound the rock and they’re going to throw it up once in a while. We wanted to limit their big plays and make them work for every yard.”
After the Bonita “D” forced West Covina to punt out of its own end zone after their first possession, the Bearcats took over on the Bulldogs’ 34-yard line. Two plays later, Turner turned the corner for a 33-yard rushing touchdown to give the Bearcats an early 6-0 lead.
On its next possession, Bonita didn’t score, but a Davis punt pinned the Bulldogs back on their own 4-yard-line. Facing a third-and-five from his own 10-yard-line, West Covina quarterback Jonathan Najera dropped back to pass but couldn’t escape the onrushing McQueen. Under pressure, Najera threw the ball right to a waiting Turner who ran the errant pass back for an 11-yard touchdown interception. After the Davis extra point, Bonita led 13-0.
West Covina countered by changing quarterbacks, switching Najera for Antonio Hull, and the strategy worked. Aaron Salgado busted a 70-yard touchdown run with 15 seconds left to make the score 13-7 after the extra point.
But instead of getting that déjà vu feeling of “Here comes West Covina to whip us again just when we thought we had them down,” Bonita countered again. After Bonita quarterback Tanner Diebold connected on a short hook-up with Christian Ramos, he found Turner on a swing pass and Turner took it to the house, wiggling, writhing, spinning, twisting and twirling his way down the field, making at least three Bulldogs tacklers miss him. Fractions of a second later, Turner was dancing in the end zone, celebrating a 62-yard touchdown with his teammates.
The tornado had just been upgraded to a cyclone.
“I’ll be honest with you, this guy is a heckuva ballplayer,” Medrano said, mesmerized like everyone else that Turner now has 23 touchdowns on the season, with no limit in sight.
Diebold connected with favorite receiver Victor Magallanes for the two-point conversion to give Bonita a 21-7 lead.
The Bearcats expanded that lead to 24-7 after McQueen recovered a fumble and Davis booted a 26 yard field goal with 3:53 left in the first half.
The score looked comfortable enough to allow many of the Bonita faithful to make an early exit to the snack bar but the Bearcats muffed a punt after holding West Covina yet again, and the Bulldogs made Bonita pay with a 16-yard scoring strike from Hull to Sydney Jones with 13 second left in the half. The play took the fizz right out of those snack bar cokes and cactus coolers.
With the score 24-14, it was suddenly and inexplicably West Covina that was taking momentum into the locker room. As well as the Bearcats had played, the team was only up by 10 points.
Bonita, however, wasn’t going by the old script. To start the second half, Angel Verdugo reeled off a long run, then Turner The Tornado rattled off a 41-yard touchdown gallop, stiff-arming one Bulldog defender out of the way. Bonita led 31-14 after the Davis extra point.
Yet, the Bulldogs still had some bark left, biting Bonita with a 44-yard touchdown from David Ford to cut Bonita’s lead to 31-21 with 10:08 to play.
And West Covina was threatening again midway through the final stanza, reaching the Bearcats 37-yard line with 5:22 left . On fourth down, the Bulldogs elected to go for it, needing six yards for a first, but a scrambling Hull fell a yard short.
With Bonita back on offense, the Bearcats smartly went to their two best weapons, the clock and that man, named Turner, to nail down the victory. Bonita didn’t run much clock, however, because Turner struck for a 69-yard touchdown run for his fifth scoop of pay dirt on the night.
Now leading 38-21, Bonita could finally claim victory. From Thomas Loy ripping balls loose, to Montoya’s seven unassisted tackles, to Turner’s touchdowns, Bonita posted a complete victory over a tenacious opponent.
“I thought our guys played tough,” Turner said. “They didn’t go in the tank or tap out. I was proud of the way they played.”
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