SOUTH EL MONTE — Big plays defined a nonleague football game between La Cañada High and host South El Monte on Thursday, and the trend started right around the end of the first quarter.
That was about the same time the Eagles’ running game started taking off, as the hosts scored five touchdowns in the first half on runs.
Though La Cañada had its fair share of big plays from junior Jacob Hardy, the Spartans dropped their second straight nonleague game to South El Monte, 47-19, on the road.
“No excuse, hats off, they’re a solid team,” La Cañada coach Jason Sarceda said. “They came out running the ball hard and didn’t do anything different from what we knew they were going to do.
“Guys had to do their jobs and we had guys out of position due to disciplinary stuff, but we have to change the culture and if we have to sit somebody, they have to sit. It did hurt us, and we gave up 21 early on and we had to play guys the whole game in a different position.”
Eagles sophomore running back Ryan Gordiano ran the ball 30 times for 241 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while junior running back Andrew Munoz had 12 carries for 162 yards and three touchdowns.
South El Monte quarterback Andrew Munoz completed six of 15 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown to go along with a two-yard rushing score.
“We tried to keep it balanced and keep them off,” South El Monte coach Frank Gallardo said. “They had a bad record last year, but this year, they greatly improved. They have a good coaching staff and you can tell that they’re becoming fundamentally sound. I thought it was going to be a battle, I really did, but I think we just played well. We’re still making our mistakes, but we played well.”
Hardy scored all three of the Spartans (3-2) touchdowns, one on a 70-yard run and two on catches of 57 and 30 yards. Spartans quarterback Brandon Reese finished 21 of 43 passing for 250 yards and two touchdowns.
“We knew that they would always pull and we knew that something was going on,” Hardy said. “Either we weren’t wrong-arming or something else was going on, so we needed someone to get the job done. I offered myself because every play I’m going to put out 100%. I figured I’d be the one to try the job. I can’t take too much credit for it. It’s all the blocks that are placed down.”
It was an action-packed final five minutes in the first quarter that started with a 28-yard touchdown catch from Gordiano, followed by a 25-yard run from Munoz to give South El Monte (2-3) a 13-0 lead with 2:50 left.
La Cañada got on the board as Hardy’s 70-yard run sliced the Eagles’ lead. But South El Monte replied with two more touchdowns on a two-yard quarterback sneak and a four-yard run from Munoz to make it 27-6 at 9:21 in the second quarter.
Gordiano got his first touchdown late in the second quarter on a 15-yard run, and after a 57-yard catch-and-go score from Hardy, Munoz added his third touchdown on a 60-yard run to make it a 41-12 score at halftime.
Hardy opened up the second half by muscling his way to the end zone on a 30-yard run to cut the South El Monte lead to 41-19. But Gordiano negated that score with a 34-yard touchdown to cap the scoring at 6:03 in the third.