True to his attire of a trench coat and top hat, Ron Hamamoto, University of San Diego High’s football coach, played the villain’s role with 3 seconds remaining in Thursday night’s game with University City at Madison. He called time out three times while University City kicker Kevin Hall was waiting to try an 18-yard field goal.
But Hall waited and stayed cool. And soon after, he drilled the field goal that gave University City (7-2, 5-0) a 17-15 victory and the City Western League title.
Well, maybe Hall wasn’t too cool. He admitted that Hamamoto had made him a little nervous.
“Sure he did,” he said. “Just more time to wait.”
But “Twinkle Toes” (Hall’s appropriate nickname) fought off his nerves and holder Troy Lane made a perfect placement of a high snap.
Perhaps it was University City Coach Steve Vukojevich who was most prophetic. He said before the game that his team might have to win doing something unusual. It did.
Darnes Taylor, one of the county’s top tailbacks, usually provides the bulk of University City’s offense. Thursday, he gained 102 yards in 20 carries. But it was Anthony Hill’s passing and Steve Calvao’s receiving that made the difference. Hill completed 8 of 16 passes for 198 yards and Calvao caught 6 passes for 168 yards.
“They had to honor everybody else,” Taylor said. “No one thought we had receivers. Our receivers are just as good as Uni’s.”
With 3:43 left in the third quarter, Hill hooked up with Calvao for a 53-yard touchdown pass, capping a 6-play, 89-yard drive which gave University City a 14-9 lead.
USDHS (7-3, 3-2) took a 15-14 lead with 11:21 remaining when Steve Walker ran in from 5 yards out to cap a 9-play, 56-yard drive.
USDHS appeared to be in position to hold its narrow lead when it held University City and drove to the Centurion 29 on the subsequent possession. There, on second and 2, USDHS quarterback Anthony Massa was pressured by David Langacker and threw an ill-advised pass that wound up in the hands of Uni City’s Peter Price. That set up the winning drive.
With the victory, University City receives a first-round bye in the 2-A playoffs. USDHS will have to wait for a possible wild-card berth.
Still, Hamamoto didn’t second-guess his game plan. He figured his team could win if it shut down Taylor.
“We had to stop the run,” he said. “We gambled and the gamble didn’t pay off.”
Vukojevich wasn’t surprised. He knew the capabilities of his team.
“This is a very business-like team,” he said. “They do what they have to do and we have some luck.”
And they have “Twinkle Toes.”