Bears rally past Griffins, 33-28, in home opener for Los Alamitos

Makai Lemon celebrates a touchdown early in the game when Los Alamitos was crusing to a first-quarter lead. Photo by Marja Bene

The Los Alamitos Griffins hosted their first home game of the year as they welcomed the Basha Bears, from Chandler Arizona. Both teams held a national ranking coming into the game, with Los Alamitos at #53 and Basha at #62. If you looked at the final score, you would think it was a close game between two high-scoring offenses.

However, that would not be an accurate account of how this game unfolded.

Los Alamitos jumped out to an early 21-0 lead and left everyone in the stadium thinking that the Basha Bears were no match for the Griffins. However, for the second game in a row, penalties would have a significant impact on the outcome.

Makai Lemon had a monster game last week and was on pace to have another one this week. He had two early touchdowns, and Oregon commit defensive back Cole Martin could not stop him. He had the Bears’ defense on their heels, allowing for the Los Alamitos offensive line to establish a running game behind senior running back Damian Henderson.

After Lemon’s first touchdown, he spun the ball in front of Martin drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. After his second touchdown, Lemon pointed at Martin, drawing a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty which resulted in his being ejected from the game.

The momentum in the game shifted, allowing the Bears to have the break they so desperately needed.      

The Bears’ offensive went up-tempo as they scored 27 unanswered points, 21 in the second quarter and 6 in the third. Down 27-21 in the third quarter, Los Alamitos was able to mount a drive, which was capped off by a beautiful pass from Malachi Nelson to Kassius “Cash” Ashtiani in the corner of the endzone.

The lead was short-lived, as the Bears would score three minutes later and take a 33-28 lead. The Bears would lean on their running game the rest of the way; a running game that gained 233 yards on 28 carries for Idaho commit Deshaun Buchanan.

So where does Los Alamitos go from here? Individually, the Griffins have been able to accumulate some decent statistics. However, they have yet to have every player eligible and play a complete game as a team.

T.A. Cunningham still has not been cleared by CIF-SS, with no timeline given. Cunningham is a dominant defensive lineman that would undoubtedly help a defensive front that has been giving up gaudy numbers on the ground. Malachi Nelson continues to put up very respectable numbers, ending this game by going 17-27 for 189 yards and three touchdowns.   

The Griffins’ next game is at home against Servite (1-2) in Veterans Memorial Stadium in Long Beach on Friday, September 9 at 7:30 P.M. Be sure to come out and support the Griffins as they look to get back on track.