At the end of the night, the votes were in: Bonita’s half-time homecoming show, culminating in the crowning of queen Ariana Abo, was a bigger crowd-pleaser than the play of Bonita’s football team, which fell to West Covina, 26-14.
Tied 7-7 at intermission, Bonita suffered a second-half, homecoming hangover when it saw the Bulldogs’ Sidney Jones take the opening kick-off 98 yards for a touchdown, putting West Covina up 14-7 after the extra point. Jones had also scored the game’s first touchdown in the second quarter on a 22-yard throw from Isiah Bravo.
To its credit, Bonita tied the score midway through the third-quarter on an electric 70-yard touchdown run by Jake Payton, who gained the corner and outraced three Bulldogs to the end zone. Payton would finish the night with 121 yards and two touchdowns, but it still wasn’t enough.
That’s because West Covina responded with 12 unanswered points in the final quarter to put the game away. “They played keep-away,” a disappointed Adrian Medrano said after the game.
After Bonita knotted the score at 14-14, West Covina put together a 65-yard touchdown drive, capped by Josh Best’s one-yard pay-dirt plunge with 10:53 left in the game.
Because West Covina missed the extra point, leaving the score at 20-14, it appeared Bonita was poised for a fourth-quarter, fairy-tale comeback.
Three times the Bearcats’ offense got the ball back, but it couldn’t march down the field and dent the stubborn West Covina defense. Bonita’s best opportunity came with 1:54 remaining when Noah Montoya stripped Best of the football, giving Bonita possession at its own 27. But again, the Bulldogs defense stiffened, with Tyler Ili sacking Bonita quarterback Tanner Diebold on fourth down.
Working with a short field and less than a minute to play, West Covina called on Best once again to run in his second touchdown, putting an exclamation point on its 26-14 victory.
West Covina had spoiled Bonita’s homecoming. While Bonita would not be king on this night, it had anointed a radiant new queen to rule throughout the unhappy land.
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