UPLAND — Sage Hill School junior quarterback CJ McCord had many Lightning fans saying, "Just wait until next year," Friday night in the first round of the CIF Southern Section East Valley Division playoffs.
The Lightning entered the game at Western Christian High as an at-large team that finished third in the Academy League. Sage Hill (5-6), winless a year ago, will be expecting big things next year, led by McCord, who typified the Lightning's no-quit effort against the Fighting Lancers.
The Lightning refused to roll over and extended the game into the night when finally No. 4-seeded Western Christian won, 55-35, in a game that took nearly three hours, ending at 10:25 p.m.
McCord threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns, completing 28 of his 52 passes with no interceptions.
Senior Sam Masarik caught eight passes for 71 yards. Senior Logan Hamilton had 73 yards and a touchdown on seven catches and senior Will Burns also made seven catches, for 67 yards.
McCord also "completed" three backward passes, one for a TD to sophomore Jake Fisher. That touchdown pulled Sage Hill to within, 48-21.
The Lightning showed great emotion on their sideline 2 1/2 minutes later when Masarik scored on a 52-yard touchdown after recovering a fumble that junior Beau Roth caused.
But the Western Christian backups held off any hope of a Sage Hill miracle comeback.
The Fighting Lancers (11-0), the Ambassador League champions, are on a historic run. Last week, they completed the first 10-0 regular season in school history, Western Christian Athletic Director Jose Ramirez said.
The Fighting Lancers built a 35-7 lead in the first half when Sarkis Panossian ran wild for 184 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries. His 68-yard touchdown capped the first half scoring with 4:53 left before halftime.
Panossian finished with 222 yards, as third-year coach Kevin Oberlander pulled most of his starters midway through the third quarter.
Western Christian scored on its first five possessions and nearly added a 39-yard field goal at the end of the first half, but it was blocked.
Panossian scored the game's first two touchdowns. But Sage Hill answered with a 12-play, 60-yard drive that ended with Roth's nine-yard touchdown run.
The Lightning then tried to surprise the Fighting Lancers with an onside kick, but Western Christian recovered and later took it in for a touchdown when Andrew Henry ran it in from 15 yards out. Henry sang the national anthem before the game started at 7:30 p.m.
Western Christian advances to play Santa Clara in the quarterfinals.
Sage Hill will wait until next year to give Coach JR Tolver his first playoff win in his five years at the school. The Lightning made their third playoff appearance under Tolver and their first since 2010.
Western Christian 55, Sage Hill 35
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Sage Hill 7 – 0 – 8 – 20 – 35
Western Christian 14 – 21 – 13 – 7 – 55
WC – Panossian 19 run (Panossian kick), 6:51.
WC – Panossian 18 run (Panossian kick), 3:50.
SH – Roth 9 run (Burns kick), :04.
WC – Henry 15 run (Panossian kick), 10:48.
WC – Orrin 52 run (Panossian kick), 7:52.
WC – Panossian 68 run (Panossian kick), 4:53.
WC – Orrin 49 pass from Hargis (Panossian kick), 11:43.
WC – Riccio 39 run (kick blocked), 6:54.
SH – Hamilton 28 pass from McCord (Hamilton pass from Rosoff), 4:08.
SH – Fisher 8 run (run failed), 9:08.
SH – Masarik 52 fumble recovery (Burns kick), 6:38.
WC – Riccio 23 run (Riccio kick), 6:24.
SH – Burns 18 pass from McCord (Burns kick), 4:40.
SH – Roth, 17-82, 1 TD
WC – Panossian, 16-222, 3 TDs.
SH – McCord, 28-52-0, 266, 2 TDs.
WC – Hargis, 3-6-0, 96, 1 TDs.
SH – Masarik, 8-71; Hamilton, 7-73, 1 TD; Burns, 7-67.
WC – Henry, 2-47.