SAN BERNARDINO – Western’s remarkable turnaround season ended Friday night, but not without a major fight and more offensive records.
Senior quarterback Anthony Munoz tossed three touchdown passes to tie JT Daniels’ Orange County single-season record and junior wide receiver Caine Savage caught each one to set the Southern Section single-season record.
Western also recovered from 15-point deficit at halftime but host San Gorgonio scored 23 points off five turnovers en route to a 43-28 victory in the CIF State Southern California Division 5-AA regional championship.
Western (12-3) captured the CIF-SS Division 11 title last week for its first championship, completing a trek under fifth-year coach Dan Davidson from years of struggling.
San Gorgonio (12-3), which edged Brea Olinda last week for the Division 9 crown, won again behind its defense and quarterback Jordan Pachot.
The Spartans, who play in Northern California for the state title Dec. 15, intercepted Munoz four times. Pachot tossed five touchdowns.
Munoz passed for 434 yards while Caine Savage had 12 receptions for 279 yards. Munoz finished the season with 67 TD passes to tie Daniels’ mark, while Savage’s 32 TD receptions set a section single-season record.
Western seized the momentum early in the second half to tie the score 28-28 late in the third quarter.
Jacob Domino scored on a 5-yard run out of the Wildcat formation with 3:57 left in the third shortly after an interception by Isiah Del Toro at the San Gorgonio 24. The PAT tied the score at 28-28.
Western’s defense forced San Gorgonio to turn the ball over on downs on the opening possession of the third. The stop led to a 60-yard TD pass from Munoz to Caine Savage. Munoz tied Daniels’ single-season record on the strike and added a 2-point conversion to James Mendoza.
San Gorgonio quickly responded. Pachot threw a 12-yard TD pass to Jaylen Matthews off a play-action fake to cap the ensuing drive with 29 seconds left in the third. Caine Savage blocked the PAT but San Gorgonio took a 34-28 lead into the fourth.
San Gorgonio’s defense forced its third turnover for the fateful blow. The Spartans pressured Munoz and Matthews recovered a fumble that he returned to the Western 18 early in the fourth. Pachot, a senior, threw his fifth TD as the Spartans took control.
San Gorgonio turned two early interceptions by cornerback Damian Rubio into 14 points and converted two key fourth downs en route to taking a 28-13 lead at halftime.
Rubio returned his first interception 32 yards to the Western 34 midway through the opening quarter. San Gorgonio capitalized on fourth-and-6 as Pachot connected with David Whaley for a 30-yard TD pass and a 7-0 lead with 5:13 left in the first.
On Western’s ensuing possession, Rubio grabbed another interception at his 27.
San Gorgonio drove for a 5-yard TD run by Elijah Hall to open a 14-0 lead.
The Spartans converted a fourth-and-7 to extend the scoring drive. Pachot threw deep again for Whaley for a 39-yard gain to the Western 5, setting up the TD run.
The Pioneers were in chase mode the rest of the night.
Munoz tossed touchdowns of 69 and 64 yards to Caine Savage in the second quarter to twice trim San Gorgonio’s lead to one touchdown, but Pachot had the final word. He threw a 19-yard TD – his third of the half — to Demajea Mitchell to make it 28-13 with 3:33 left in the half.
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