Belmont Rallies to Knock Off Poly, 15-14

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Poly High might be the reigning City Section 3-A Division champion, but that didn't prevent the Parrots from suffering what has become a tradition--losing their season opener to Belmont.

In a nonleague game Friday night, host Belmont fell behind early but clawed its way back to a 15-14 victory. The win marked the fourth consecutive year that the Sentinels had beaten Poly to open the season.

The Parrots, known for their ground game, took to the air, scoring both touchdowns on passes by Lance Garcia. But it wasn't enough as Belmont's Juan Sandoval kicked field goals of 40, 30 and 26 yards.

The game began with a Belmont fumble and the Parrots wasted little time converting the mistake into points. Garcia lofted a 41-yard touchdown pass to Michael Vreeland for a 7-0 lead.

The Sentinels responded by driving 45 yards in eight plays before settling for Sandoval's first field goal, a 40-yard effort. The junior also connected from 30 yards after Belmont had intercepted a Garcia pass near midfield to make the score 7-6 in the first quarter.

Poly's quarterback didn't get shy about throwing the ball, though. Garcia passed 16 yards to Vreeland for another touchdown, and a 14-6 lead, in the second quarter. Belmont closed the gap to 14-12 on a five-yard touchdown pass from Mario Ruiz to Magin Munoz less than a minute before halftime.

The second half began with an errant Garcia pitch, and Belmont recovered the fumble and Sandoval kicked a 26-yard field goal moments later for his team's first lead, 15-14, and the winning points.

Garcia completed seven of 19 passes for 153 yards, but the Parrot ground game was stymied as Jermaine Pledger gained only 52 yards in 13 carries.

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