There were no surprises for the Palm Springs Indians Friday in their first-round CIF-Southern Section football game. The Indians had to stop the punishing running game of Colony High School of Ontario and find enough offense themselves to win the game.
In the end, the Indians fell a bit short of both goals, falling to the Titans 22-13 at Ralph Watt Stadium in a Division 4 matchup.
“We knew we had to stop (Nathan) Tilford, and they made more plays than us,” Palm Springs head coach Dan Murphy said after watching his team finish their year with a 7-4 record. “We couldn’t stop them at times we needed to stop them and lost the football game.”
Tilford, the Titans’ 6-foot-2, 220-pound running back, finished the night with 164 yards, but the yards came on 26 tough carries in a game where both teams struggled at times to put together much offense. Colony (8-3) managed the last two scores of the night, one late in the third quarter and the other early in the fourth quarter, to overcome a feisty Palm Springs team that held a 13-8 lead in the third period.
The Indians had taken the lead with just 1:21 left in the third quarter on a 23-yard scoring run by senior Josh Barlow. Barlow, who finished with 85 yards on 16 carries, ran hard and delivered blows on his runs throughout the night after what Murphy said had been Barlow’s best week of practice in the year. But the extra point failed, and the Indians led by just five points.
On the ensuing kickoff, Tilford took the ball at the Colony 2 and raced up the middle for a 75-yard run, setting the Titans up at the Palm Springs 23. Two plays later Colony quarterback Bahari Holloway ran in for 11 yards for the go-ahead score, but the Titans’ failed to convert on a 2-point conversion, leaving the Indians down 14-13 with 28 seconds left in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter Palm Springs suffered the only turnover of the game when quarterback Jeremy Dotson’s long pass was intercepted at the Palm Springs 42. Colony put together an eight-play scoring drive, with Tilford running on six of the plays, including the final two yards for the critical score. This time a pass for a 2-point conversation worked, and Colony led 22-13 with 8:09 left in the game.
“We watched every game they played this season,” Murphy said. “When they got in trouble they gave the ball to (Tilford) and he made everything right. And that’s what they did tonight. Hats off to them. They are a good football team and we fell a little short.”
Palm Springs pieced together a nine-play drive that moved from its own 22 to the Colony 16, but a 37-yard field goal was no good with 3:44 left in the game, and the Indians never touched the ball again.
Palm Springs had taken the lead in the game in the first quarter on a 33-yard pass from Dotson to Isaiah Scott. Colony answered late in the half on an 18-yard swing pass from Holloway to Tilford, who raced down the sidelines and dived into the end zone.
While the end of the season proved disappointing for the Indians and marked the first time in three years the Indians haven’t advanced to at least the second round of the playoffs., Murphy was pleased that Palm Springs had rallied from a start to the season where it couldn’t win games and wasn’t all that competitive.
“We started 0-3 and we were pulling our hair out trying to figure out what to do, and these kids got better each week,” Murphy said. “You can’t ask for much more than that as a coach. You want to see improvement. They came together. They found their identity.”
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COLONY 22, PALM SPRINGS 13
COLONY 0 8 6 8 — 22
PALM SPRINGS 7 0 6 0 — 13
PS – Isaiah Scott 33 pass from Jeremy Dotson (Angel Valtierra kick)
C – Nathan Tilford 18 pass from Bahari Holloway (Holloway run)
PS – Joss Barlow 23 run (kick failed)
C – Holloway 11 run (run failed)
C – Tilford 2 run (Holloway pass to Ryan Moya-Chapron)
RUSHING: Colony – Nathan Tilford 26-164, Jiaire Wade 3-13, Bahari Holloway 8-0. Palm Springs – Josh Barlow 16-85, Isaiah Beltran 1-6, Nick Reyes-Foster 1-8, Jeremy Dotson 3-5
PASSING: Colony – Holloway 6-10-0-88. Palm Springs – Dotson 9-15-1-131
RECEIVING: Colony – Ryan Moya-Chapron 1-41, Michael Ezeike 3-18, Nathan Tilford 1-18, Mekhi Zimmerman 1-11. Palm Springs – Damion Lee 2-40, Joshua Barlow 2-36, Damion Loman 1-35, Nick Reyes-Foster 2-13, Isaiah Beltran 1-9, Stanton Lewis 1-minus 3.