When senior Jordi Gomez won the job as Male High School’s kicker in late September, he dreamed of a moment like this – time winding down, game on the line and a chance to be the hero.
The left-footed Gomez booted a 21-yard field goal with 3:44 remaining to lift the Bulldogs to a 22-21 victory at Manual on Friday.
An estimated crowd of 10,000 at Manual Stadium saw Male (10-0) run its winning streak to 16 and beat Manual for the seventh straight time.
This one, however, was by the slimmest of margins.
“Scoring the field goal in this big rivalry, I’ve got no words,” Gomez said. “I was shaking, but then I realized I’ve practiced for this moment. I was like, ‘I’m going to make it. I’m going to make it.’ That’s exactly what happened. I just went crazy after that.”
Male took an 87-45-6 all-time lead in the Old Rivalry that started in 1893.
Bulldogs coach Chris Wolfe was simply happy to escape with a victory after sloppy first half and now be able to focus on next week’s playoff opener. Male will host Southern (4-6) in a first-round game next week as it begins its quest for a second straight Class 6A state championship.
“I’ll take the win, like everybody,” Wolfe said. “But it’s a week-to-week thing now. An injury here, an injury there, you just never know. It’s tough going 10-0, and so I’m just happy with that.”
Behind sophomore running back Ja’Waun Northington, Manual (8-2) looked like it might finally end its Old Rivalry skid.
Northington had touchdown runs of 75 and 36 yards as the Crimsons built a 14-0 first-quarter lead. His third touchdown run – a 3-yarder – gave Manual a 21-13 lead with 2:47 left in the third.
Northington finished with 135 yards on 13 carries.
“I’ve been telling everybody, he’s a special dude, man,” Manual coach Scott Carmony said. “When we’ve got to have it, he can do that. He’s that special.”
Male relied on its running attack to battle back as Jaylin Bross rushed for 207 yards on 33 carries and Quantrell Wright finished with 95 yards on 15 attempts.
Wright’s 41-yard touchdown run pulled Male within 21-19 with 21 seconds left in the third quarter. Bross carried six times for 32 yards on the drive that set-up Gomez’s game-winning field goal.
“For him to keep practicing and keep working hard as a senior and win a spot, I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” Bross said of Gomez. “This feels good. This feels better than a state championship right here!”