If the coaching staff for the Cathedral City football team ever considers a new line of work, motivational speaking may be the perfect route to pursue.
In what had to have been a halftime pep talk for the ages, the Lions roared back from a 20-point deficit by scoring 34 unanswered points in the second half for a rousing 41-27 Homecoming victory over Xavier Prep in a Desert Valley League game on Friday night.
“There were a couple of halftime speeches,” Cathedral City coach Richard Lee said with a laugh. “I wasn’t the only coach talking.”
And, what exactly was said while the Homecoming court was being honored during the lengthy halftime festivities and Xavier Prep holding a 27-7 advantage?
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“Coach said it’s our Homecoming,” senior Isaiah Ross said. “If we really want it, come and take it.”
Senior Jordan Wallace added: “We knew that we would win this game if we kept fighting and didn’t quit. We knew that we could play way better than we did. Everyone just relaxed and we went to work.”
Spearheading the rejuvenated offense at quarterback, Wallace carried the ball 27 times for 149 yards and four touchdowns and finished 14-of-25 passing for 226 yards for the Lions (2-4, 1-1 DVL). His 13-yard TD pass over the middle to Jose Reyes Hernandez on the second play of the fourth quarter helped tie it up at 27-27.
The score was still tied after each team failed to capitalize on its next two possessions.
The Cathedral City defense, which was stellar the entire second half, made the play of the game with less than five minutes remaining. On first down from the Lions 45-yard line, Xavier Prep quarterback Michael Johnson coughed up the ball after being hit Enrique Segovia.
Ross picked up the fumble, broke a tackle and raced 35 yards for the go-ahead score with 4:16 on the clock.
“They were pretty big,” Ross said when asked how wide his eyes were when he saw the ball on the turf. “I just wanted to score. That’s all.”
On their ensuing possession, the Saints picked up one first down before turning the ball over on downs.
Wallace then put an exclamation point on the come-from-behind victory with a 40-yard touchdown run on the next play.
The good times continued when Moses Ramirez recovered a fumble on the kickoff. It was the fourth turnover of the second half for the Saints (3-3, 1-1).
“Everything that could’ve went wrong, went wrong,” said Xavier Prep junior Braxton Wehrli, who opened the game with a 95-yard kickoff return.
Johnson was 9-of-14 for 200 yards in the first half, but was only 7-of-15 for 54 yards in the final two quarters. After Adam Gil scored on a 4-yard run with 9:41 left in the second quarter, Johnson tossed a 7-yard TD pass to Mason Sarna four minutes later.
Logan Peszko closed out the first half with his second field goal – a 36-yarder – with 40 seconds left to push the Xavier Prep lead to 27-7.
“We did the same thing last week (vs. Shadown Hills),” Lee said. “We kind of played sloppy in the first half and woke up in the second half. That’s not the ideal way to play football. We want to play four quarters, but our kids are resilient. They play as hard as they possibly can. I’m really, really proud of them.”
James Green rushed for 105 yards on 19 carries and he also had an interception that led to Cathedral City’s game-tying TD.
CATHEDRAL CITY 41, XAVIER PREP 27
Xavier Prep 10 17 0 0—27
Cathedral City 7 0 13 21—41
(XP): Braxton Wehrli 95 kickoff return (Logan Peszko kick), 11:43
(XP): FG Peszko 33, 10:00
(CC): Jordan Wallace 2 run (Alejandro Diaz kick), 1:20
(XP): Adam Gil 4 run (Peszko kick), 9:41
(XP): Mason Sarna 7 pass from Michael Johnson (Peszko kick), 5:46
(XP): FG Peszko 36, :40
(CC): Wallace 2 run (Diaz kick), 10:15
(CC): Wallace 3 run (kick blocked), 4:21
(CC): Jose Reyes Hernandez 13 pass from Wallace (Diaz kick), 11:30
(CC): Isiah Ross 35 fumble return (Diaz kick), 4:16
(CC): Wallace 40 run (Diaz kick), 1:36
RUSHING—Xavier Prep, Mason Sarna 17-46, Braxton Wehrli 3-15, Fabrice Voyne 1-5, Adam Gil 2-3, Michael Johnson 7-0, team 1-(-2), Scott Gilliland 1-(-3). Cathedral City, Jordan Wallace 27-149, James Green 19-105, Jose Reyes Hernandez 1-1, team 3-(-4).
PASSING—Xavier Prep, Johnson 16-29-1-254 Cathedral City, Wallace 14-25-0-226.
RECEIVING—Xavier Prep, Sarna 5-16, Chandler Barbato 4-86, Spencer Conley 3-70, Fabrice Voyne 3-43, Wehrli 1-39. Cathedral City, Isiah Ross 5-100, Reyes Hernandez 4-48, Timothy Miller 3-26, Green 1-28, Bryan Sanchez 1-24.