There’s an old saying that goes, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters most,” and in the Bearcats’ (3-2) case, they did neither, as the Diamond Bar Brahmas bulled their way to a 49-26 victory on Friday night at Glenn Stadium in La Verne.
The Bearcats started sluggishly; in fact, they scarcely started at all. It was all Brahma ball. Nolan Luzzi’s field goal with 9:39 left in the first quarter staked Diamond Bar to an early 3-0 lead. Meanwhile, Bonita’s opening drive stalled after a dropped pass.
Fortunately, on Diamond Bar’s next possession, Bonita cornerback Danny Gelalich picked off an errant pass from Tyler Peterson, but the Bearcats couldn’t capitalize on the turnover.
Diamond Bar’s next drive started at its own 41. The Brahmas marched to Bonita’s 8-yard line before Luzzi was called on once again to kick a 28-yarder. His attempt knuckled through the uprights to expand Diamond Bar’s lead to 6-0. Bonita didn’t own a first down in the first quarter.
The second period didn’t start much better for Bonita. Working again with a short field and the benefit of face mask call against the Bearcaats, Diamond Bar punched through its third straight field goal. However, after an off-sides penalty gave the Brahmas a first down on Bonita’s 2-yard line, the Brahmas took the three points off the board and ran the ball into the end zone on a Peterson quarterback keeper to expand Diamond Bar’s lead to 13-0 after the extra point.
Despite the somnambulant start, somebody on the Bonita bench must have found some smelling salts because the Bearcats finally roused to life in its next possession. Starting on its 35, Bonita featured several runs by Jake Payton and a slick reception by Richie Cochran over the middle before Diebold finished the drive with a 13-yard touchdown scamper. Suddenly, Bonita trailed only 13-7 after the Christian Cobian extra point.
On defense, Bonita also stepped up the pressure, forcing a short punt, enabling the Bearcats to take possession on the Brahmas’ 39. A few blinks later, Payton reeled off a 32-yard touchdown run to give the Bearcats a 14-13 lead after the extra point. It was a stunning turn-around. The Bearcats claws had finally come out.
Bonita’s lead was short-lived, however. In its next possession, Diamond Bar answered with an 80-yard touchdown drive, most of the damage coming on a 46-yard gallop by senior captain Tyler Brown, putting the Brahmas back on top, 20-14 after the extra point.
Bonita fumbled the ensuing kick-off, putting the Brahmas back in business at the Bearcats’ 30. Diamond Bar closed the deal when Peterson found Cordell Broadus on a fade route in the corner of the end zone where only Broadus could catch the lofty pass. Bonita’s Austin Russell blocked the extra point to keep the score at 26-14 as the first half came to a close.
Bonita’s start to the second half was a complete reversal of the team’s first-quarter snooze. Diebold started hooking up with wide-out Dimas Diaz and just as Diamond Bar was trying to shut down Bonita’s aerial game, Payton stung the Brahmas a second time with an 11-yard touchdown run. The extra point try failed.
Then just after Bonita had put together its best drive of the night, the Bearcats let any momentum they had slip right through their fingers, as Brown raced 94 yards on the kick-off, vaulting Diamond Bar to a 33-20 lead after the extra point.
After the kick-off, Bonita took over on its own 17, but its possession didn’t last long. Facing a third-and-18 from its own 9-yard-line, Diamond Bar’s Josh Sanchez picked off Diebold’s pass and returned it to Bonita’s 1-yard line. On its third try, Peterson carried it in for the touchdown, springing Diamond Bar to a commanding 40-20 lead after the extra point.
“In a very short span, they put up 14 points and that killed us,” Bonita head coach said.
Indeed, it was a devastating one-two punch from which Bonita would never fully recover.
Bonita put up another score early in the fourth quarter, finishing an 82-yard drive with a 13-yard TD pass from Diebold to Payton who snatched the ball out of the air and turned the corner to pay dirt, but the effort would not be enough.
Taking advantage of a failed on-sides kick by Bonita, the Brahmas pinned their ears back and went looking for more. They scored two more on a safety and then tacked on another touchdown courtesy of a 35-yard sprint into the end zone by Tyron Kelley.
Then things got a little chippy. A few flags flew, tempers flared, but the scoreboard result remained the same, Diamond Bar 49, Bonita 26.
“We just didn’t execute,” Medrano said.
In football, when you don’t execute, you get executed … at least for one night, anyway.
“We’ll bounce back,” said the young, likable Medrano. “We’ll bounce back.”
Bonita bounces out on the road next week to face Rowland.
For a good night’s sleep, check out Cost Plus Mattress in La Verne! Owner Paul will put the bounce back in your step with great prices and value!
All photos by Eric Davis. And how about a shout to Brandt Davis, who’s booting up a storm for Carleton College in Minnesota!