Thrilling comeback by Roosevelt over Fresno
Roosevelt High trailed rival Fresno 34-7 in the first half Friday night. Game over, right?
Rough Riders quarterback Angel Maldonado completed the comeback on a 2-yard scoring run with 5:40 left and Roosevelt held on for a 49-46 victory in the 90th Little Big Game at Ratcliffe Stadium.
“I’m so proud of our players, coaches ... they never quit,” Roosevelt coach Vince Branstetter said. “We could’ve easily quit in the first quarter, but we kept battling.”
Roosevelt (8-2, 4-1) moved into a tie for the North Yosemite League championship with the Warriors (5-5, 4-1), who had won five straight.
Most importantly, the Rough Riders retained the Little Big Game trophy — Poncho aka the pig — and trimmed Fresno’s lead in the series to 46-42-2 according to records kept by Central Section historian Bob Barnett.
The combined 95 points is the most in the Little Big Game.
Fresno’s fall might’ve started when a sprinkler broke behind the Warriors’ bench, sending a gusher of water into the air. Roosevelt scored 13 straight, the last on a touchdown with 5 seconds left in the third quarter to make it 34-20.
Max Villanueva’s long run made it 46-34 before Roosevelt completed its comeback.
Roosevelt senior defensive back Dameon Ross helped keyed the comeback when he picked up an interception in the third quarter.
“We just kept our foot on the pedal and never gave up.,” Ross said. “This time right here, I’ve been a part of this team for four years and they’re great competitors. It never stops. I tell them to stay on the grind and that’s what we did tonight.”
Said Maldonado: “It was a big one. We were down and came back. There was a lot on the line and we never gave up and came out on top.”