The Malibu Sharks football team drove 82 yards in the final two minutes to edge out the Chadwick Dolphins 32-29 in a thrilling game Friday at the MHS field.
A quick-strike air assault with crisp passes from junior QB Chase Gardella to his favorite target senior receiver Brennan Cassone, drove down the field to score, and with the dramatic finish improved to 1-1. Dolphins fall to 1-1.
Cassone began his career day, scoring four of the Shark’s five touchdowns, with a 21-yard reverse with 4:43 to play in the first quarter.
The Dolphins tied midway through the second quarter, but the Sharks responded with a 24-yard TD pass, Gardella to Cassone.
With 1:20 minutes to play in the half, Gardella again found Cassone on a 71- yard strike giving the Sharks a commanding 20–7 lead. But following an excessive celebration penalty against the Sharks and a botched kickoff deep in their own territory, the Dolphins found themselves at the Shark’s 26 with 1:17 to play in the half.
The Dolphins momentarily appeared to have capitalized with a TD pass, but this time Cassone came to the rescue on defense breaking up the erstwhile TD completion in the end zone. Two plays later, the Dolphins were stymied near the goal line by junior defender Nick Anthony’s interception. The Sharks took a knee to preserve their 20-7 lead as time expired in the half.
The Sharks extended their lead at the end of the third quarter led by their big playmakers, Cassone and senior receiver Apollo Loomis, and culminating in
Gardella scoring on a keeper from the four-yard line. The Sharks were cruising 26–7, and had no inkling of the heroics they would need in the fourth quarter.
Chadwick began to move the ball effectively and scored again, now trailing 26-14 with 8:21 to play. Following a failed onside kick, the Sharks found themselves in good field position with a chance to ice the game.
The drive stalled and with fourth and 5 to go at the 50 yard line, the Sharks’ punt was blocked. Chadwick recovered the ball on the Sharks’ 17 yard line and one play later had pulled to within 5 points, 26-21 with 6:38 to play.
Following the ensuing kickoff, the Sharks went 3-and-out and punted to mid field. Chadwick was now in the drivers seat with 4:31 to play and made the most of the opportunity. A quick TD and two-point conversion later, and the stunned Sharks were behind 29-26 with 2:08 to play.
Gardella took the reins of the quick offense and completed a 33 yard pass to Cassone at the 50-yard line. Facing fourth down and potential game-ending play, Gardella again connected with Cassone at the 31, and one play later at the 20, but time was running short and the Sharks used their last timeout. On the next play Cassone found space behind the Dolphins secondary, and Gardella’s pass was true with 24 seconds to play. Sharks 32, Chadwick 29.
After the game, Coach Ray Humphrey commented, “Brennan Cassone played a huge part, but it was also a team effort … our offensive line stepped up, (Offensive Coordinator) Dylen Smith called a great 2-minute offense at the end, and our guys just never stopped playing. [QB] Chase Gardella came through for us. He struggled a bit early, but he kept his composure and he marched us down the field at the end. That last drive was the Brennan and Chase show. I was also proud of how [senior running back] Gianni Rivetti ran the ball. Our line blocked better today, our defensive line got some sacks, so it was a group effort.”
The Sharks line - the unsung heroes of the day - include Nick Carlson, Eddie Johnstone, Taurino Ruiz, Cooper Barton, Alden Quartz, Jordan Klarenbeck, Mario Yocopicio, and Matt Vincent.
“Chackwick is tough. They came with a good game plan and even when they were down by three scores they kept their composure and fought back. That’s a well coached team,” Humphrey said.
“What I’ve noticed after two games is that we don’t quit… We’re going to play - we may take a quarter off here or there, and we need to fix that - but we we’re going to play hard to the end.”
Next up for the Sharks is Pasadena Poly, at home, Saturday, Sept. 15, 1 p.m.