Once the dust started clearing away from San Gorgonio High’s 35-27 homecoming victory over unbeaten Fontana Jurupa Hills -- a battle of the Spartans, incidentally -- some emotional motivation surfaced.
San G senior Jaylen Matthews, dead tired from triple duty as a running back, cornerback and punter, seemed almost calm in celebration.
“We love playing undefeated teams,” he said. “They had big targets on them.”
So when San G (7-1, 3-0) erupted for 28 points in the first five minutes of the game, this showdown with the visiting Spartans (7-1, 2-1) started melting down quickly.
“They came in cocky,” said Matthews.
Told, perhaps, that they’re supposed to use that as intimidating tactics, Matthews said, “Yes, but they came to the JV game (one day earlier) hoofin’ it, talking trash, calling out people on our sideline.”
A San G assistant coach verified Matthews’ accounts, saying there was no security, no administration and that “the referees wouldn’t even throw a (penalty) flag.” There were, he said, plenty of profane moments.
All of which drifted into Friday night’s All-Spartan duel.
“We came in,” said Matthews, “ready to play smash mouth football.”
Yes, he said. “We were motivated.”
San G’s scoring:
* Ryan Whittemore caught a 48-yard TD pass from QB Seth Burbine 51 seconds into the game.
* When Jurupa Hills punter Miguel Rodriguez was tackled three yards short of a first down, Damajae Mitchell scored on a 23-yarder from Burbine 2:36 into the game.
* Four snaps after Dejon Mitchell recovered a Jurupa Hills fumble, Matthews’ 6-yard TD run made it 21-0 at the 7:39 mark.
* Senior defensive end Jaylen Anderson snuck in to steal a screen pass, returning it 34 yards, lifting San G’s lead to 28-0 with seven minutes left in the opening quarter.
If anyone thought Jurupa Hills would go quietly into the 72-degree night that would be a mistake.
The visiting Spartans’ deficit seemed to bring more firepower. San G had to respond.
“The big word of the week for us,” said San G’s All-CIF cornerback Damian Rubio, “was discipline.”
Covering Jurupa Hills’ talented wide receivers -- Daveion Gambo and Trayton Cooper -- was the biggest challenge San G faced.
Cooper scored on a 9-yard run, giving Jurupa Hills some life before a lengthy, flag-filled opening quarter came to an end.
Matthews had raucous help from his San G mates, who were battling a raucous Jurupa Hills team -- 8-4 last season, three of its losses coming against eventual CIF champions Anaheim Western, San G and Rialto Eisenhower.
“Our pass rush was incredible,” said Matthews, despite San G coming up with zero QB sacks against Eric Marinez (22-of-42, 248 yards), who threw four interceptions.
“Our rush brought pressure,” said Matthews, “and got us those interceptions.”
Two came from Rubio, one returned for a 71-yard TD. That quick, 28-point head start? Was it surprising?
“Yeah,” said Rubio, but he quickly switched his answer, “well … no. We knew we had to come out fast.”
Jurupa Hills wasn’t exactly unarmed.
Gambo, said Matthews, “is Darren Jones’ little brother.”
Jones, a 6-foot-8 stud receiver at San Bernardino Cajon, caught 183 passes over two seasons in 2017 and 2018.
Said Matthews: “There’s all athletes in that family.”
Somehow, San G’s defense -- linebackers Desi Gonzales, Ronald Williams and Jaheim Crawford, plus linemen Angel Avila and Leonardo Mendoza -- put enough heat on Marinez to slow down Jurupa Hills’ passing game.
That Gambo came up with 10 catches for 157 yards, plus an impressive fourth quarter interception, was apparent in slowing up the visiting Spartans.
“He’s 6-3 and I’m 5-10,” said Matthews. “He runs great (pass) routes. Great hands. Great heart -- and speed. He was a handful.”
Rubio said, “We traded off on the coverage.”
Matthews and Rubio were covering Cooper and Gamboa.
Cooper caught eight passes for 71 yards, including a 32-yard TD.
Jurupa Hills, in fact, came up with a pair of TDs in the game’s final 23 seconds -- Gambo’s 28-yarder coming as time ran out.
If not for Rubio’s Pick-6 return, the outcome might have been in jeopardy for San G, whose offense was held to minimum yardage after that opening quarter.
Matthews and Crawford combined for 133 yards rushing. Burbine’s 7-for-10, 121-yard effort came mostly in the opening minutes.
“Our blitzes, the great coverage’s we were in,” said Matthews, “saved us.”
Jurupa Hills, known to use gadget plays and double passes, didn’t call any plays like that. “It might’ve been they were behind so much that early in the game,” he said.
Just as Matthews left the field, a rival coach came up to shake his hand.
“Do us a favor,” he said, “and beat Eisenhower for us.”
That showdown is tonight.
“Right on this field,” said Matthews.