San Bernardino – Cajon’s offense did its job, creating a big play to give the Cowboys the edge.
But that was only half of the equation needed for victory. Defense also needed to make a big game.
Maika Esau answered that call, intercepting a pass with just over a minute on the clock, as the Cowboys rallied to an 18-13 win over Lawndale in a non-league game Saturday night suffering penalties.
Cajon (3-0) was trailing 13-12 and had his back against the wall when a perfectly placed punt was dropped to 9 with 2:46 in the game. The Cowboys needed a play to cover those 91 yards, as Martinez Miles Jr. flipped a pass to run back Freddy Fletcher, who ran into the end zone to give Cajon his first lead.
Fletcher covered 113 yards in 23 carries on Saturday, but was slotted in for the deciding game.
“The quarterback and I had an understanding. If there was a single defense on the other side of the field, we are audible for a seam route,” explained Fletcher. He said, ‘He bowled a great ball. I grabbed it, and we ended it.”
Of course, the drawback of such a quick strike was that Lawndale had plenty of time to respond.
Lawndale (0-2) had a long kickoff return denied by a penalty, so the Cardinals began the drive on their 30. On the third play of the drive, Lawndale quarterback Seth Schig scrambled to his right and tossed a pass to the side. Esau timed his break and came up with a second interception from Cajon’s second half.
“I saw two receivers there, and just jumped into the play when I could,” Esau said. “I made sure to keep the football going with all my strength. I didn’t want to rumble and give him the ball back. It felt great.”
Both offenses struggled with mistakes and penalties in the opening half and the game was scoreless at halftime.
Things changed rapidly in the second half.
Lawndale covered 83 yards on the opening half of the dive, and Shig found Jesse Anderson for a 12-yard touchdown. Cajon responded when receiver Devre Ford lined up at quarterback and got to Jaquan Smith for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The Cowboys’ two-point conversion effort was not good, so Lawndale led 7-6.
Cajon’s defense was burned by big play in the very next play from scrimmage, as Orlando Greenlow caught a short pass from Shig, breaking a tackle en route to a 73-yard touchdown that gave Lawndale a 13-6 lead.
Lawndale appeared to be adding to that lead at the start of the fourth quarter, but a touchdown pass was erased by a penalty. On the next play, TJ Hughes intercepted a pass in the end zone to give the right to Cajon.
Miles skewered Smith, and Smith, one of California’s top sprinters, had no trouble running away from the Lawndale defense for a 50-yard touchdown. Cajon had a successful two-point conversion that was denied by a penalty and the ensuing extra-point effort was sailed wide, so the Cowboys trailed 13–12 with 8:10 remaining.
Miles completed 10 of 14 passes for 207 yards, and his last three completions accounted for 172 of those yards.
Schig completed 12 of 20 passes for 238 yards, and Derek Boyd II completed 101 yards on 17 carries.
The teams combined for 26 penalties for 226 yards.