3-A Title to Point Loma; 2-A a Draw : Pointers' Perfect Season Preserved by 38-Yard Kick in Closing Minutes

Don't be surprised to see Bennie Edens, the Point Loma High School football coach, at a lot of Pointer soccer games this winter.

Last winter, he attended a game and saw T.J. Linardi, a little guy with a leg suited for kicking.

Edens asked him to become the Pointer kicker this season, and all Linardi did was make the all-county first team.

Then, Saturday night, Linardi finished the story. His 38-yard field goal with 1:43 remaining gave Point Loma a 16-14 victory over Morse in the San Diego Section 3-A championship game at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.

Point Loma, which defeated Morse, 14-13, last month to end the regular season, finished 13-0 in front of 14,178 fans. Morse wound up 10-4.

"There was a lot of pressure, but I felt confident that I would kick it through," Linardi said. "I had to make it."

Earlier in the second half, Linardi had missed an extra point and a field-goal try, and as a result, Point Loma trailed, 14-13. Point Loma's Marcel Brown then recovered a fumble at the Morse 47 with four minutes to play.

Lewis Guillory, who gained 112 yards in 23 carries, ran three times for 15 yards, and Kelby Downey gained 12 yards on a counter play to set up Linardi's winning kick.

"I was really lucky to get a second chance," Linardi said.

In the third quarter, Guillory scored on a 30-yard run to pull the Pointers within 14-13, but Linardi pulled the PAT attempt wide left. Then, midway through the fourth quarter, he was a short on a 43-yard field goal try.

"He a pressure ballplayer," Edens said. "We knew we had to go to him at the end."

Morse, as in the first meeting between the two teams, dominated the first quarter and rolled to an early lead.

The Tigers took a 7-0 lead on their second play when quarterback Jimmy Rose threw a 51-yard scoring pass to Melvin Maxwell.

Much had been made before the game about how Morse's offense would react without starting quarterback Mike Liera, who was injured two weeks ago. But Rose, shaky in Morse's semifinal victory over Mount Miguel last week, started fast. His play-action fake on second down froze Point Loma safety Francisco Bogarin and allowed Maxwell to beat cornerback Trinell Thornes on a deep post pattern.

By the halfway mark of the first quarter, Morse had scored again to make it 14-0. An 18-yard punt by Bogarin set Morse up at the Point Loma 30, and four plays later, Larry Maxey scored on a two-yard run.

Point Loma finally got going early in the second quarter and drove 71 yards to the Morse 9. But on third down, Mike Bennett's pass was intercepted by Reggie Ellis in the end zone.

Bennett missed on his first five passes and was 2 for 8 after the interception. But on Point Loma's next possession, he bounced back with two strikes that put the Pointers on the scoreboard.

First, he hit his favorite target, tight end Bob Brasher, for a 36-yard gain. On the very next play, he threw to backup tight end Anthony Shelton for a 36-yard touchdown.

Morse tried to add to its 14-7 lead late in the second quarter but was thwarted by penalties.

Another poor punt by Bogarin gave the Tigers the ball on Point Loma's 22 in the final minute. Joe Welch ran 11 yards, and Rose completed a pass to Maxwell for 8 yards, and Morse had a first-and-goal from the three.

A motion penalty put the ball back on the eight, and then Brasher sacked Rose for a 10-yard loss. On third down, Welch was called for offensive pass interference, and the Tigers were pushed back to the 33.

Paul Curtis' 50-yard field-goal try was short, and Morse's lead remained 14-7 at halftime.

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