WEST COVINA — High school football teams rarely have confidence they can engineer a game-winning touchdown drive with 37 seconds left.
As it turns out, Don Lugo not only had the confidence Friday night, but the Conquistadores had time to spare.
Kalib Pacheco’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Tony Martinez with 6 seconds left lifted Don Lugo to a wild 41-40 victory over host West Covina and helped the Conquistadores clinch at least a share of the San Antonio League title.
“As soon as they scored and left us with 37 seconds left, I knew we had the opportunity to come back and score,” Don Lugo coach Josh Knight said. “Once they got down to the 1-yard line, I wanted them to score. We have grit. These guys played hard.”
It was not only a wild finish, but it was a wild fourth quarter in which the teams combined for 48 points, including 20 points in the final 1:32.
Don Lugo (3-6 overall, 2-0 in league) had led by as much as 20-7 in the second half, but West Covina (7-2, 2-1) kept coming.
Don Lugo had tied the score at 34 with 1:32 left on a 1-yard run by Pacheco before West Covina rallied back. Ethan Mendez’s 52-yard run gave the Bulldogs a first down at the Don Lugo 13 with 52 seconds left.
Zander Requena ran the ball to the 2 on the next play, and Don Lugo took a timeout with 42 seconds left, leaving West Covina coach Mike Maggiore with a decision. He did not want to settle for a field goal, but he realized it would have been ideal to take a knee a couple of times before scoring a touchdown.
“We should have done that,” Maggiore said. “That’s what I’ll be living with this weekend, while the kids are at the homecoming dance, I’ll be thinking about that.”
Mendez scored the go-ahead touchdown on the next play, but the extra-point attempt failed, giving Don Lugo a chance.
It took Don Lugo six plays to go 74 yards. Gavin Hrynezuk made a diving 37-yard catch to give the Conquistadores first-and-goal at the 5. After Pacheco spiked the ball to stop the clock, Martinez capped the drive with a catch in the front right part of the end zone.
Issac Lopez, who earlier in the game kicked two field goals, made his fifth extra-point try in as many attempts to give Don Lugo the lead.
“When I’m in my groove, I really can’t be stopped,” Pacheco said. “I knew before the (winning touchdown) play was snapped, I was definitely going to him (Martinez).”
Pacheco completed 30 of 59 passes and finished the game with 488 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. It was only the second catch of the game by Martinez, but two of his teammates: Hrynezuk (14 catches, 222 yards, one touchdown) and Samuel Chavez (four catches, 120 yards) each had big numbers for the Conquistadores.
Meanwhile, Mendez (113 yards, two touchdowns) and Requena (118 yards, three touchdowns) each rushed for over 100 yards for West Covina.
“Second half, we out-played them,” Maggiore said. “They have two very good receivers and a quarterback who can throw it. We did the things we had to do, but we just didn’t make plays. You can’t just play a half of football against an offensive team like that.”
The Conquistadores’ winning drive was not their only one against the clock. In the first half, they got the ball at their own 12 with 36 seconds left in the half, and drove to the West Covina 17. Lopez kicked a 34-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to give Don Lugo a 17-7 lead.