TEMPLE CITY —The La Cañada High football team lost its eighth consecutive game Friday night, but not before a spirited second half — one in which the Spartans outscored Temple City by 20 points and sealed their highest point total of the season.
As well as the Spartans played in the second half, however, they were conversely bad in the first half when they gave up a touchdown in each of Temple City’s first four possessions and dug themselves a hole they never could get out of. The result was a 44-26 Rio Hondo League loss to the Rams.
“We opened up, used our speed and were successful doing so,” said first-year Spartans Coach James Sims of the team outscoring the Rams, 20-3, in the second half. “We felt we were the faster team, and they were bullying us coming off the line, so it was muscle versus brawn.”
La Cañada’s Andy Paynter scored two touchdowns and rushed for 180 yards in the contest. His first score came with the game well out of reach, as the Rams had already put up 34 points on the scoreboard. Paynter’s 60-yard sprint down the sideline cut the Temple City lead to 34-6 with 4:52 remaining in the first half.
The Rams (5-4, 3-1) answered with a touchdown in the waning seconds of the half, and it would prove to be their final trip to the end zone.
Mario Del Cueto started the momentous second half with the opening kickoff, as his return gave the Spartans offense the ball on the Temple City 40. Del Cueto would be the beneficiary of his own set-up three plays and over a minute later on a 30-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Robbie Fuelling to cut the deficit to 41-14.
Cueto caught five of Fuelling’s seven completions and 75 of his quarterback’s 85 yards.
The Spartans (1-8, 0-4) recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but were unable to take advantage on their next possession, although a 42-yard Jadon Henry touchdown was called back for a block in the back penalty.
La Cañada wouldn’t score again until midway through the fourth quarter when Grant Owen picked up a Temple City fumble and ran it back 92 yards for a touchdown to cut it to 44-20. Owen also started the game as quarterback.
After another defensive stop, Paynter’s 85-yard dash with 1:15 remaining in the game gave the Spartans a new high for points in a game this season, but unfortunately that was the silver lining of yet another loss.
La Cañada will attempt to end the skid next week against winless Blair in the season finale.