The rich lore of the long-standing Gustine-Orestimba football rivalry grew even deeper Friday.
The Reds and Warriors went toe-to-toe for four intense quarters, trading the lead and the momentum with big plays and sudden turns of fortune before Gustine landed the knockout punch with 25 seconds left on the clock.
With the game seemingly destined for overtime as the seconds ticked away, Gustine receiver Trenton Cremeen got behind the Warrior defense and quarterback Jonathan Martin delivered a strike to Cremeen for a 35-yard touchdown, breaking a 22-all tie and giving the Reds a wild 29-22 victory.
“It was back and forth. You couldn’t ask for a better rivalry game,” said Gustine head coach Ronnie LaBry.
Aaron Souza, his Orestimba counterpart, agreed.
“That was a great football game,” Souza commented. “It’s what makes this rivalry exciting. You never want to lose, but my hat is off to them.”
In a rivalry packed with remarkable games, the 2019 edition may go down as being among the most memorable - in large part to its dramatic finish.
Orestimba took a 14-10 lead into the final quarter, only to see the Reds turn the table with two touchdowns in less than 30 seconds. The Warriors rallied to tie the game, setting the stage for Gustine’s game-winning drive.
Afterward, Gustine players and fans flooded the field to celebrate, surrounding The Chief - a wooden statue which goes to each year’s winner - and reveling in the moment.
The Reds ended a four-game Orestimba winning streak in the rivalry, and in doing so evened the overall record between the schools at 36-36-2.
Martin’s arm delivered the game-winner, but his legs kept the Reds in the contest as the quarterback scored on two long touchdown runs.
He opened the scoring late in the first with a 43-yard touchdown run on third and long, breaking out of the pocket and finding room up the middle to thread through the Warrior defense and into the end zone. Danny Hernandez added the extra point.
Orestimba’s defense got that touchdown back midway through the second. Martin, under pressure, threw a short pass that was picked off by Clarence Johnson, who went 34 yards the other way for a pick six.
The PAT by Eduardo Carranza evened the score at 7-7 with 6:42 left in the half.
Gustine went back in front before halftime after the Reds capitalized on a turnover.
Adam Caldera recovered a Warrior fumble at the Orestimba 44, and on the next play Cristopher Meneses broke free on a 43-yard run to the 1. But Gustine was unable to punch into the end zone after being stopped on the first down play and then penalized. The Reds settled for a 24-yard Hernandez field goal to go up 10-7.
That score stood into the second half.
Orestimba controlled the football for much of the third quarter, and eventually scored on a fourth-down, 23-yard pass from Anthony Casillas to Omar Venegas to go up 14-10 in the closing minutes of the third.
Then the Reds struck for two quick touchdowns in a sudden turn of events.
After a 15-yard completion to Mateo Gallichio kept the Gustine drive alive, Martin went 56 yards on a bootleg for the go-ahead touchdown little more than a minute into the fourth quarter. The conversion failed, leaving Gustine with a 16-14 lead.
Moments later, it was 22-14. Orestimba fumbled the ball and Christian Garcia recovered for the Reds at the OHS 33. Hernandez broke free on the following play for six points, and just like that the Gustine lead was eight.
But Orestimba answered on its next possession.
A 34-yard completion from Casillas to Auston Martens moved the ball into Gustine territory.
Casillas took matters into his own hands from there after the drive stalled. He moved the chains on a fourth-down run, and on the following play raced 15 yards into the end zone to make it 24-22.
Venegas hauled in the pass on the two-point conversion play to tie the game with 6:40 remaining.
The Warriors caught a potential break with little more than four minutes left when Hernandez, who was lined up to punt on fourth down, instead tried to run for a first down and was stopped short, giving Orestimba possession at mid-field.
A completion to Auston Martens moved the Warriors to the GHS 35 with a fresh set of downs, but Gustine’s defense came up with the stop at that point and forced a turnover on downs.
That set the stage for the game-winner to Cremeen, which came on a play-action pass with 25 ticks on the clock.
The jubilant celebration on the Gustine sidelines and stands was on in earnest moments later as the Reds extinguished Orestimba’s last-ditch attempt to pull even.
Gustine’s defense helped pave the way for the victory by forcing five turnovers. The offense pounded out 305 rushing yards to go with 120 through the air.
Martin led the ground game, picking up 109 yards on just four carries. Hernandez was the workhorse of the offense, grinding out 94 yards on 16 carries. Meneses had a big night as well with 86 yards on 10 carries.
Gallichio had two receptions for 65 yards, while Cremeen had two catches for 55 yards.
David Wilson led the Gustine defense with seven tackles. Cremeen, Garcia, Jeff Botelho, Hernandez and Gallichio each had a hand in six tackles, while Daniel Quinn and Esteban Bugarin were each credited with five tackles.
While the Reds did most of their damage on the ground, Orestimba’s offense revolved around the aerial attack.
Casillas completed 18 of 29 passes for 244 yards. Jayden Vargas was his favorite target, hauling in eight passes for 120 yards. Auston Martens had four catches for 78 yards.
Xavier Avila picked up 30 yards on 11 carries, while Casillas carried six times for 29 yards.
Senior John Landeros had a huge night defensively for Orestimba. He had a hand in 18 tackles. Mario Garcia was credited with 10 tackles, while Johnson had 10 tackles to go with his pick six.
Orestimba finished its season with a 5-5 record, while Gustine finished 3-7.
For the Reds, who improved as the season went on and played their best football in the last month, the rivalry win was one for not just the school but the entire community to savor.
“It means a lot to the seniors to close out the season like this,” said LaBry. “For the underclassmen, this gives them something to build on.”