HANFORD – One bad quarter proved costly to the Orange Cove High football team in its season opener on Thursday night, Aug. 17.
Trailing by just a point after the first 12 minutes, the Titans were outscored 17-0 in the second period and ultimately dropped a 31-6 decision to Sierra Pacific High. Junior quarterback Landon McKee threw touchdown passes to Shauntai Kimble and Dawson Berna, while Jacob Cunha added a field goal to help power the Golden Bears in head coach Ryan DeSantos’ debut at SPHS.
Titans coach Horacio Bravo compared his team’s opening night performance in the “sprint versus marathon” description.
“At the beginning of the game (our team) took it as a sprint, and they learned a little bit because of that. So that’s going to help us move forward,” he said.
Orange Cove’s lone offensive highlight was an 83-yard touchdown sprint by junior running back Isaac Angulo, who slipped through a hole up the middle and sprinted down the right sideline to bring the Titans’ within 7-6. Sierra Pacific had opened the scoring on a short touchdown run by Joe Avalos.
The Golden Bears then closed the quarter on a long run-dominated drive, featuring a 25-yard run by Avalos, and opened the second quarter with McKee’s 4-yard scoring pass to Kimble. After a punt return touchdown was called back on a clip, the hosts moved downfield and settled for a field goal and 17-6 advantage.
The Titans’ offense sputtered again and Sierra Pacific made a drive deep into OC territory near the end of the half. McKee found Berna just inside the back of the end zone just 40 seconds before halftime, making it 24-6.
The only second half scoring came when the Bears defense stripped the ball free from the Titans’ backup quarterback Oscar Alvarez, throwing from his own end zone and scoring on an interception. Alvarez showed some promise, throwing a touchdown pass called back by penalty and leading another scoring threat ended by an interception on a tipped pass.
Defensively, Orange Cove got a pair of interceptions from defensive back Alexander Rosas. The Titans battled fatigue from the heat in the second half, with a number of cramping issues plaguing players on both offense and defense.
“The purpose is to come here and represent yourself, number one, represent the team, our school and our community,” Bravo said. “And so we’re going to continue to work. This was a tough loss, but we’re going to bounce back.”
The coach expects to see improvement from the Titans and build on the team’s good plays in the opener.
“We’ve got to continue to grow from those, and (stress) the positives out there,” he said.
Orange Cove opens its home season Friday, Aug. 25 against Riverdale High in a scheduled 7:30 p.m. varsity kickoff at Titan Stadium.