After a strong fourth quarter effort, the Dorsey Dons football team fell to the San Fernando Tigers in the Division I City Section Championship. This is the Dons second consecutive Division I finals appearance.
The Dons were the first to score, by progressing down the field on the ground. Senior quarterback Mekhi Ellis targeted senior tight end Isaiah Smalls for a 20-yard play. Three plays later, junior running back Charles Mincy Jr. scored a touchdown from a fourth and goal.
The Tigers rebutted the Dons with a 30-yard rush from junior running back Trevor Gill. San Fernando soon reached the Dorsey red zone. On a fourth and goal is where junior Andrew Frias rushed in a score, the game was tied at seven with 4:45 left in the first quarter.
“We’re been working on this since the summer,” junior running back Kyle Bryant said about the Tigers running game. “We just tried to put a game together from what we already had from last year and it worked out good this year.”
A 27-yard punt return by running back Michael Alejandro put the Tigers on the Dons’ seven-yard line. Gill ran into the end zone, pushing the score up to 14 points. Penalties on the Dons offense thwarted their progression down the field and the Tiger offense returned at midfield after six plays.
Rushes led San Fernando to the red zone again, a pass to the unguarded sophomore Robert Valdez would help the Tigers to a 21-7 lead by halftime.
The Tiger offense resumed to start the second half. They outlasted penalties and recovered their own fumble to surge deep into Dorsey territory. On the fourth and goal, Bryant ran into the end zone from four yards out. The San Fernando score was pegged at 28 points.
Although all odds were against them going into the fourth quarter, the unbreakable Dorsey Dons kept fighting. The Tiger defense earned two sacks on Dorsey, but could not stop the 70-yard touchdown play by senior wideout Dion Bascom.
After four plays, the Dons offense returned to the field at their own 33-yardline. Mincy Jr. shot out the backfield with a 73-yard touchdown carry. With 3:23 left in regulation, the game became suspenseful as the Dons rallied back 21-28.
“We realized that they wasn’t covering the swings and the coaches wasn’t really calling it was much, so I told my [quarterback], I was like ‘Mekhi (Ellis) swing left.’ We checked the swing and I ran the swing up to the left,” Mincy Jr. said. “I got out and the safeties was on the slot receiver and the outside receiver so we took advantage of that.”
San Fernando had time on their side when the Dons defense refused to allow them another touchdown. Dorsey gained possession with regulated seconds left and were unable to make another scoring play.
“We just believed in our defense,” said San Fernando junior Trevor Gill. “Our defense is really good and we just needed another stop.”
The Dons survived what their players called the hardest schedule in the state of California, battling the likes of Serra in Gardena and St. John Bosco. They went 4-1 in the Coliseum league and 7-7 overall.