Maybe it was the “Thank you, Moro” chant after the game. Or maybe it was Michael Fulmaono leading his team in a sobbing prayer of gratitude.
Perhaps it was the entire El Camino football taking a “thank you” lap around their brand spanking new stadium — high-fiving their supporting fans so graciously, after a loss no less. Or maybe it was Austin Turner and Alec Goff sharing a tearful embrace, both juniors soaking up the pain of heartbreaking loss on their way back to the team postgame pow wow.
A field goal that went wide left. A gutsy 2-point conversion call with his team down one and only a minute left. A legendary coach announcing to his players that this was his final ride.
Whatever moment you choose, a couple of things are certain about South City’s 29-28 win over rival El Camino: one, the 2013 Bell Game will go down as one of the most unforgettable and emotionally draining contests in the rivalry’s history.
And two, as far as christening a new stadium is concerned, no one does it better than the city of South San Francisco.
The 2013 Bell Game was about as evenly matched as it has been in recent memory. The Warriors, despite their 0-5 run through the Peninsula Athletic League’s Bay Division, went into Saturday’s game not having loss to El Camino in 20 years. But it was South City’s struggles and injuries, coupled with the Colts and the opening of their new football field and subsequent hosting of the Bell Game for the first time in its history, that gave El Camino players the belief that this was their season.
And up until the 5:06 mark of the fourth quarter, when Michael Keegan bulldozed his way for a 1-yard touchdown (and John Turner added a 2-point conversion), it appeared El Camino had South City’s number. The Colts had busted the door open to begin the second half after trading football blows with the Warriors during the first 24 minutes of football. One play into the second half, Brandon Gip exploded into the South City secondary and carried the ball 63 yards for a touchdown that gave El Camino the 20-13 lead.
The score gave the Colts added momentum after hanging with South City for the game’s initial parts. The Warriors thwarted El Camino’s initial drive, that took up double-digit plays to begin the game but netted them zero points. And, despite trailing 13-7 as time was winding down in the second quarter, South City kept plugging away with the run game and it paid off as a last minute touchdown gave the Warriors the lead going into recess.
But Gip’s touchdown run right out of the second-half gate energized El Camino. The Colts only ran four plays in that third quarter (as opposed to 20 for South City) but still led 20-13. A missed extra point though would loom large in the grand scheme of things.
South City went on yet another long and bruising drive to end the third quarter, and on the first play of the fourth, Dupra Goodman broke off a 27-yard touchdown run to give the Warriors a 21-20 lead.
After an El Camino punt, the Colt defense came up huge, forcing a turnover on downs at the 43-yard line. It was then than Gip and Danny Ruiz carried the ball all the way to the 1-yard line and Keegan did the honors to put El Camino up 28-21.
But South City came right back. With five minutes left, it took the Warriors eight plays to go 69 yards yards. Goodman ran the ball in from eight yards out and then South City head coach Frank Moro made the gutsy call and elected to go for two with 1:28 left in the game.
On the exact same play call that scored the touchdown, Goodman went in to give South City the 29-28 lead.
But El Camino wasn’t done. With 1:26 left, Keegan drove the Colts down to the 2-yard line with eight second left which set up a 19-yard, game-winning field goal attempt.
A delay of game penalty made it a 24-yard attempt. It might not have made much of a difference though as El Camino missed the kick wide to the left to give South City another Bell Game win.
After the game, Moro announced that this was his last season as the South City head football coach.