Yellowjackets magic season ends with 35-28 defeat in CIF quarterfinals

Aparicio throws for 329 yards and 3 touchdowns, rushes for another in emotional “left it all on the field” defeat


Sonia Castillo

Senior receiver Xavier Sandoval leaves it all on the field after the final play of Colton’s 35-28 defeat at the hands of the Bishop Montgomery Knights on Nov. 11.

Colton, CA—This one had all the makings of another come from behind, last second miracle. Six seconds remained on the clock, Yellowjackets were on their own 46-yard line, score was 35-28 in favor of the visiting number 1 ranked Bishop Montgomery Knights. Quarterback Gabriel Aparicio grabbed the snap and looked for his favorite target, Xavier Sandoval. He found him slicing towards the Knights’ 30 and let fly.

That’s when the magic streak ended. The pass was incomplete, and the Yellowjackets’ Cinderella season ended with a 35-28 defeat.

The game was a back-and-forth clash on a cold Colton night. The first quarter belonged to the defenses as each team looked to feel the other out. Colton threatened to score on their first drive, pushing the ball down to the Bishop 4, but a fourth down incomplete pass to Sandoval let the Knights take over.

Colton’s defense came out strong, however, with Max Millanez breaking up a deep through by Bishop quarterback Diego Rodriguez to sophomore receiver Cameron Brewer, followed by an interception by Sandoval at the Colton 37.

It was beginning to look like this was going to be a defensive showdown until Rodriguez finally found a gap in the Yellowjacket defense, which he took for an 85-yard touchdown run. The quarterback also served as the Knight’s kicker, and knocked in his own extra point, putting the Knights up 7-0.

This woke up Colton’s offense. On their next possession, they turned the showdown into a shootout as Aparicio found Sandoval for a 54-yard touchdown pass. A failed two-point conversion kept the score at 7-6, Knights’ advantage.

Bishop scored on their next possession as Rodriguez found Brewer for a 9-yard touchdown toss, and the extra point put the Knights up 14-6. The Yellowjackets pushed to close the gap by the half, but a missed 41-yard field goal kept the score 14-6.

After the half, Colton came out re-energized. Bishop received, but the defense looked like they had figured them out. Abeal Sanchez came up with a fumble by Rodriguez on a fourth-and-two. Immediately, Colton striked. Running back Damian Sanchez racked up 20 yards before Aparicio served up his second touchdown pass to Sandoval, a 53-yard strike to bring the Yellowjackets within two after the failed two-point conversion, 14-12.

Special teams then put together one of their most important moments of the season, recovering an onside kick on the next kickoff, which brought out the Yellowjacket offense for another series at the Bishop 46-yard line.

Aparicio spread the wealth, hitting receiver Angel Reynoso for 24 yards, then finding tight end Mateo Barboza in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown catch. Then, on the two-point conversion, offensive lineman Colton Suchil had the block of the season, which gave Aparicio the space to find Sandoval to put the Yellowjackets up 20-14.

On their next possession, Bishop showed why they were the number one team in the division, as Rodriguez found Brewer again for a 4-yard touchdown catch. The Knights reclaimed the lead on the extra point, 21-20.

This set up a dramatic fourth quarter. Colton worked to manage the clock with its run game, and Aparicio, down at the Bishop 3, ran for a touchdown to put Colton up 28-21 after Damian Sanchez punched through for the 2-point conversion.

Bishop punched back, scoring again on a 32-yard touchdown pass by Rodriguez to Justin Auston, which knotted the game at 28.

An interception by Aparicio, followed by a four-and-out on the next possession had Colton in a true dogfight, tied at 28 with less than five minutes remaining. Bishop ran the clock, knowing their kicking game could win the game, so they ran on Colton’s defense, with Rodriguez sprinting out of the pocket to keep the chains moving. He found receiver Dominic Marchiondo for the winning 9-yard touchdown.

In the loss, Gabriel Aparicio had one of his best games of the season, throwing for 329 yards, 3 touchdowns, and rushing for 1 touchdown. Sandoval was equally in top form, collecting 217 total yards, 2 touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Sanchez, who had been struggling with a lower back injury the last couple weeks, came out strong, with 173 total yards and a two-point conversion.

This defeat, which had the Yellowjackets visibly emotional after the game, ends a season that started with the Colton winning only 1 in their first 5 games before finding their game and finishing 4-1 to take second in the Skyline League. They missed Sandoval over half of the season, but when he returned, the team emerged as a legitimate playoff contender. Last week’s victory over Cerritos High marked the first playoff victory for the team since their 2010 CIF title run.