When push came to shove Friday night to all but decide the Citrus Belt League football title, Fontana, the No. 1 team in the Southern Section, and No. 3 Eisenhower of Rialto pushed again for 3 1/2 quarters. They were tied.
In the final 4:29, however, Fontana showed its dominance, scoring a 26-14 victory before a standing-room only crowd of about 10,000 at Eisenhower.
As unlikely as the turn of events, the offensive hero was perhaps even more surprising. Steeler quarterback Chris Hancock had just 75 yards in total offense and did not throw a pass in the second half, but the senior scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner with 4:29 to play.
In a well-played game, the go-ahead score came after Eisenhower punter Michael Smalls couldn’t handle the snap and was swarmed by Fontana defenders at his eight yard line. Two plays later, Hancock, who rushed for 21 yards, went in from the four on a quarterback draw to make it 20-14. The extra point failed.
When Eisenhower (6-1 overall and 3-1 in league play) got the ball back after the ensuing kickoff, running back Darryl McChristian, who had 116 yards and 2 touchdowns in 13 carries, fumbled. Fontana (7-0, 4-0) drove 38 yards for the insurance touchdown, with Hancock getting much of the yardage on three keepers and running back Derrick Malone taking it into the end zone from one yard out with 1:24 left. The Steelers’ try for a two-point conversion failed.
Any hopes the Eagles had were snatched out of the air on their next drive as Fontana defensive back Kurt Bruich, who caught a touchdown pass from Hancock in the first half, intercepted quarterback Steve Hoak.
The lasting tallies, beyond the final score: Eisenhower had three straight turnovers to end the game and needs a major upset to have any hope of getting a piece of the Citrus Belt League championship. Fontana closes out the season with three games against teams that began the weekend with a combined record of 5-11-2.
In addition to gaining control of the league race, the Steelers came up with a big game when they needed it most for the second time this year. In Week 2, they beat Vista of the San Diego Section, then No. 4 in the state, on the road, and Eisenhower began the night No. 5.
Fontana, which got a game-high 110 yards rushing from Malone, led at halftime, 14-7, with all three scores coming on successive drives, and both Steeler touchdowns the result of Hancock passes.
With 4:20 left in the first quarter, Hancock and wide receiver Tom Leogrand hooked up on a 25-yard score. Leogrand outjumped a couple of Eisenhower defenders to make the catch.
Eisenhower came back to tie it, 7-7, on the next series, as McChristian went up the middle from a yard out with 10:55 to play in the first half.
Then, on a drive highlighted with a 37-yard reverse by running back Edrian Oliver, Hancock hit Bruich with 5:35 remaining in the half for a 7-yard score. That was making the most of few opportunities--Hancock completed 4 of 8 attempts for 54 yards in the first half.
Eisenhower got its final touchdown to make it 14-14 with 6:59 left in the third quarter, McChristian scoring on a 74-yard run.