In a game showcasing the talents of Malik Lovette and Miles Harrison, it was Lovette who did a celebratory backflip in front of his school's fans after scoring three touchdowns in Redlands East Valley's 34-33 victory over Concord Clayton Valley in Saturday night's CIF state championship Division II bowl game at StubHub Center in Carson.
Lovette showed why is headed for Oregon, catching nine passes for 154 yards and one touchdown, running for two more touchdowns and accounting for 184 total yards.
"These guys are more than teammates, they're my brothers," Lovette said. "Big players make big plays in big games. We were matching them TD for TD and our coaches told us if we don't score we might as well give them the championship. It came down to who had the most heart at the end of the game."
As impressive as Lovette was, he couldn't overshadow the performance of Harrison, who carried the ball 50 times for 323 yards and three touchdowns and added a 40-yard touchdown reception for North Coast Section champion Clayton Valley (15-1), which entered the game averaging 53.5 points and 518.9 yards.
"We knew from the beginning he was the guy we had to watch for," Lovette said of Harrison. "I can't believe he ran it that much. I respect him a lot."
Lovette and Harrison took turns making highlight-reel plays, but East Valley linebacker Jaelan Phillips made perhaps the two biggest plays — blocking an extra point and then recovering a fumble by Ugly Eagles quarterback Nate Keisel to give the Wildcats the ball at their own eight-yard line with 4:12 left. On the ensuing drive, Lovette caught a 27-yard pass from Armando Herrera on third-and-15, allowing East Valley (15-1) to run out the clock.
"That pass was supposed to be a run, but they switched their coverages and I saw their linebacker playing the run — it's all about making the right read," said Herrera, who completed 22 of 38 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns, including a 19-yard strike to Khris Vaughn that put the Southern Section Inland Division champions in front 34-27 with 1:08 remaining in the third quarter. "Jaelan is my best friend, so it felt great to see him make two huge plays in the fourth quarter."
Moraga Campolindo 35, Lakeside El Capitan 28: In the Division III game, Adam Remotto returned a fumble 85 yards for the winning touchdown with 52 seconds left.
Campolindo (16-0) scored the last 28 points. Remotto got the comeback started with a 38-yard touchdown catch from Jack Stephens with 46 seconds left in the third quarter and added a 13-yard scoring reception from Stephens to pull the Cougars within 28-21 early in the fourth quarter. Max Flower scored the tying touchdown on a 14-yard pass from Stephens with 4:30 left.
Stephens threw for 291 yards and four touchdowns and USC-bound receiver Tyler Petite caught seven passes for 102 yards for Campolindo.
Brad Cagle threw for 89 yards and two touchdowns and Dennis Smith ran for 80 yards in 17 carries for El Capitan (14-1).