Sam Bernstein staff writer
The varsity football team travelled to Cerritos to face the Cerritos High School Dons for a non-conference game. Friday night’s game ended in heartbreak for the Normans, as they lost 22-16 after holding a two-score lead for most of the second half. The Normans record dropped to 0-4 after the Dons (1-3) captured its first win of the season.
During week three, the team lost to Malibu 19-14 after a close game, so the team was hopeful going into this one against the formerly winless Dons. Wide receiver and safety Senior Thomas Goolsby had some keys to the game before kickoff.
“We have a good offense when our o-line [offensive line] is blocking well, we just have to keep up the pace throughout the whole game. O-line and d-line [defensive line] have to do their jobs,” Goolsby said.
The o-line, made up by four seniors and a junior, allowed no sacks on senior quarterback Jeremiah Klapper. The line also helped running backs junior Nick Sullivan and senior Joshua Johnson get key first downs to keep the offense rolling. The d-line did their job also, as two forced fumbles, a safety and multiple sacks kept the Normans in the game. Senior Greg Carter landed two sacks on the Dons’ quarterback.
Neither team could get on the board before 2:01 in the second quarter. With a touchdown and field goal scored by Cerritos at the end of the second quarter, the half ended with a score of 0-7. Sophomore offensive guard Kyle Espinal was impressed by the team’s first half performance.
“I think it’s going really good our way. We got some good sacks and good stops as a defense and our offence is making good runs. It’s a good game,” Espinal said.
The Normans defensive line came out strong at the start of the second half. With 8:35 left in the third quarter, the Dons’ center launched a ball right over their quarterback’s head that the Dons were able to recover. Unfortunately for the Dons, they recovered it in their own end zone and the Normans were able to force a safety to make it 7-2. The Normans capitalized on their defense’s success and staged a two-play drive to put up their first touchdown of the game. Klapper lobbed a 40 yard pass to Goolsby who caught the pass after the Dons’ cornerback tipped it right into his hands, which Goolsby took the to the end zone. The two-point conversion was good, and Beverly had a 10-7 lead with 8:17 left in the third quarter. After another Normans defensive stop, the offense was able to capitalize again and put up another touchdown. Klapper threw a bullet to Goolsby for the pair’s second touchdown of the game. The two-point conversion was no good, and the score was a 16-7 Normans lead. The tables started to turn after that. Neither team could put points on the board until the very end of the third quarter, where Cerritos was able to punch in a touchdown at the end of a key two-minute drill drive. Their two-point conversion was no good, and it was on to the fourth, 16-13, Normans lead.
The fourth was quiet until Goolsby, on defense this time, was able to force a fumble with 5:41 left in the fourth quarter. Beverly couldn’t take advantage of another chance with the ball, and coughed the ball up back to Cerritos. Cerritos also couldn’t capitalize, however Beverly got the ball back close to their own end zone. Because of the tight circumstances, Cerritos’s defense forced a safety to make the game 16-15. Cerritos couldn’t put points up after getting the ball back, so Beverly had the ball with under five minutes left in the fourth. They couldn’t convert either, and Cerritos got the ball back with four minutes left in the game. With 3:24 left, Senior linebacker Jonathan Tansey forced a fumble to get the ball back. Again, however, Beverly couldn’t convert and Cerritos got the ball back on their five with 1:25 on the clock.
With 20 seconds on the clock, Cerritos put up a quick touchdown and extra point bring the lead up to 22-16, which ended up being the final score. The Normans, after shaking hands with the victors, got in an emotional team huddle with Coach Geanakos, who was optimistic after the game.
“I think they are heartbroken after a loss like this, but the last two weeks is the first time in several years that we’ve been in games that came down to the wire and had a chance to win,” Geanakos said.
Geanakos’ optimism seemed to trickle down to the team, as senior placekicker Daniel Breslavsky, who was playing in his first game with the team, was confident about the team around him and their playoff chances this season.
“I think we can win the rest of the games this season, we just have got to have the willpower,” Breslavsky said.
Senior quarterback Jeremiah Klapper was proud of the team around him regardless of the outcome. Klapper was also accepting of the results and recognized the skill of the Dons.
“Things just didn’t go our way. We prepared and we ran what we wanted to do, we played our game but they just had a better strategy,” Klapper said, “I’m really proud of the team, 100 percent. We battled and things didn’t go our way but we kept battling especially having last week.”
The Normans travel to Palos Verdes this Friday to play the 2-2 Peninsula High School Panthers in a non-conference game.