LOS ANGELES — After posting a dominant victory in its season opener, Hoover High football was going to need to show some resiliency for a win Friday night.
While the Tornadoes certainly had that, it ultimately wasn't enough in a 39-26 loss to host Sotomayor. In the end, Hoover was doomed by its special teams play.
First, Hoover (1-1) found itself in a 20-0 hole less than six minutes into the game when it fumbled the ball on consecutive kickoffs. The Tornadoes’ comeback bid was finally halted when it surrendered a 71-yard punt-return touchdown to the Wolves’ Luis Sanchez, who gave his team a 39-20 lead, with 6:50 to play in the game.
“It was just nerves at the beginning of the game,” first-year Hoover Coach Matt Andersen said of the early fumbles. “Once we settled down we started doing things that we do well. I think that’s all it was, coming out a little nervous.
“You take away those 20 points and we win that game.”
Hoover, which opened the season with a 65-0 win over Blair, signaled its attempt at a comeback 14 seconds into the second quarter when Kenneth Tranquena sprinted 56 yards down the field to bring the score to 20-7, which is where the score remained headed into halftime.
Hoover’s hopes of redemption got an immediate shot in the arm in the second half. Faced with a fourth and 14, Tornadoes quarterback Se Jun Kim connected with Johnny Johnson for a 35-yard score with 8:23 to play in the third.
Three plays later, the Tornadoes were gashed by a 69-yard touchdown run from Sotomayor running back Rudy Murillo, who finished with 311 yards and four touchdowns on 31 carries.
As it showed all game, Hoover was unfazed and marched 68 yards down the field on five plays. Tranquena capped the touchdown drive when he took a pitch from Kim into the end zone from six yards out to bring Hoover back within a score, 26-20.
Tranquena finished with 105 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries and an interception.
Hoover halted another Sotomayor march down the field and had a chance to take the lead when Andres Perez intercepted a pass at Hoover’s own seven and returned it to his team’s 28 just 16 seconds into the final quarter. The Tornadoes’ offense ended up stalling and was forced into a three-and-out.
Sotomayor (2-0) went back to Murillo, who got his fourth and final touchdown on a 28-yard scamper to push the lead to 32-20 lead with 9:01 to go.
Five plays later, Hoover was forced into another punt, and Sanchez took it to the house to effectively end the game.
The Tornadoes weren’t about to quit, as Kim hit James Rubalcava with a 42-yard scoring pass on fourth-and-18 to cap the scoring with 4:29 remaining.
Kim completed eight of 26 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite receiver was Alvin Kim, who hauled in four catches for 102 yards.
“They fought hard after that last game against Blair, we started playing down to Blair’s level and we weren’t playing Hoover football,” Andersen said. “Basically, all we wanted to do was come out and show effort and they played their ass off. The effort was there, but it was just the execution, you’ve got to execute.”