Since 1991 the Aragon-Hillsdale rivalry, known as the “Battle of the Fleas,” has been characterized by two simple words: Don Domination. Entering Friday and on the eve of homecoming night, the Dons had been victorious over the Knights for the past 22 years and with a win the Dons would cap off an undefeated season. However, the unthinkable happened as the Dons saw their 22 year streak end off the boot of an Eli Kertel extra point as the Knights looked to seal the game 14-13 in overtime.
After both teams committed three-and-outs to begin the game, it would be a huge battle of the defenses for the whole contest, and at half time Aragon was behind by a single touchdown 7-0. To begin the second half the Dons tied up the game on their opening drive with a 10 yard touchdown run by Sophomore V.A. Wilson.
Both teams would continue to battle it out on defense throughout the second half, however it was not as if Aragon didn’t give themselves opportunities. The Dons had their share of chances to take the lead and grab a hold of the game, none bigger than near the end of the fourth quarter. The Dons had a chance to take the lead with a little under two minutes left in the game when Senior quarterback Billy Mason dashed into the end zone for a 10 yard run. However, the refs signaled a holding penalty and negated the score, and the Dons would not end up scoring at all on that final drive. After gaining all of the momentum after putting a halt on the Dons’ final scoring attempt in regulation, the Knights marched down the field all the way to the Dons’ 45. With the clock ticking and the end zone becoming closer and closer, the Dons’ Senior corner back Chad Franquez ended Hillsdale’s hopes of winning in regulation by jumping a pass from quarterback Brett Wetteland and intercepting it before being embraced by the whole Dons squad on the sideline. Franquez evidently came to the rescue at the perfect time for the Dons and sent the game into overtime.
“It was an obvious pass situation with the time running out. They were in doubles but then motioned over to trips so we automatically checked out of cover 2 (formation) and into a cover 3. They did a little clear out with the wide receivers to dump the screen off down under but it wasn’t there. I saw (Wetteland) rollout so I just camped behind their bunch of receivers waiting for him to throw it and he did and sailed it right to me” Franquez explains.
With the Dons having the first possession to begin overtime, they took the ball from the 10 yard line and three plays later ultimately scored when Senior quarterback Billy Mason ran around the right side for a four yard touchdown to put the Dons ahead. However, Junior Kicker Nick Kaye hit the bottom of the crossbar on the extra point that followed which opened the door for Hillsdale to convert. Senior running back Roe Mahanty took the ball for the last two plays of the game for Hillsdale and wasted no time in getting to the end zone. After beginning an eight yard run from the 10 yard line, Mahanty plunged into the end zone to set the stage for Kertel to put the icing on the cake for the Knights. Kertel lined up a perfect kick right down the middle of the goal post and ran all the way down field as his teammates and Hillsdale students and fans all stormed the field after him.
The scene looked like one out of Friday Night Lights. The Dons players and crowd were ready to storm the field and celebrate for the 23rd straight time, only to see the Knights take it from them minutes after scoring to begin overtime. It was the closest game any one could ever have imagined, as the Knights finished with 295 yards of total offense compared to Aragon’s 290. Despite all of the heartbreak, Coach Sell believes that his team should absolutely hold their heads high no matter what the scoreboard says. “I am going to remember them for winning the league championship and not for the streak. We hadn’t won a league championship since 2006, so they ended that streak. It hurts and it’s going to be painful for the kids and feel crappy, but that’s sports and that’s what happens.
Coach Sell adds that “We shot ourselves in the foot with the fumble and the penalties. We had
penalties at critical times, and we had two red zone penalties that killed us. When you do that you’re going to lose. This game was going to be too close for us not to win.
As shocking as the loss felt for the Dons, coach Sell understands that those things happen in
sports and after all, the streak was going to end at some point but the Dons have lots to look forward to.
“You’re kind of numb. You knew this day was going to come. They’ve been close so many times. Now we
move on, and what I’m focused on is that we went 9-1 and won an Ocean Division Championship. We
still have the playoffs so that’s the thing I am going to remember from this team.
Standouts for the Dons from Friday night’s contest include Sophomore running back V.A. Wilson, who rushed for an astounding 125 yards on 24 carries which helped contribute greatly to a Dons
rushing attack that went for over 200 yards against Hillsdale’s strong defense.
The Dons will open up their CCS playoffs this Friday, November 21st at Burlingame beginning at 7:00.