The stakes were set for an upset.
The Galileo football team, playing in front of its home crowd in its final game of the season, had just pulled within four points of favored Mission, courtesy of a sterling 69-yard touchdown reception from Deshawn Jose that had shifted the momentum clearly to the Lions.
The Bears responded by turning to the one player capable of stemming the tide — star running back DeAngelo Winston — and, as he has done so many times this already this season, he delivered for them.
On the Bears’ first play after Galileo had closed the gap to four, Winston carried off right tackle, broke a few tackles at the line of scrimmage and eluded a number more downfield en route to a dazzling 65-yard touchdown jaunt that put Mission up 27-16, propelling the team to a 34-24 triumph over the Lions in Academic Athletic Association play.
The scoring run was part of a vintage effort from Winston, who carried 17 times for 155 yards, to go with four touchdowns in the contest.
"It was important for us to get the score right there," Winston said. "I just kept my balance and was able to find my way into the end zone."
The Bears (5-5, 4-3 AAA), who had already wrapped up a playoff berth in the AAA playoffs courtesy of tiebreaking advantages over Burton and Washington, appeared poised to blow the game open early after racing out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter.
But the Lions (1-9, 1-5) responded, stringing together a 10-play, 67-yard drive, capped off by Antouine Carter’s one-yard plunge and a successful two-point conversion that made the score 14-8 heading into halftime.
Mission extended the lead to 20-8 in the third on a 9-yard Winston touchdown score, but the Lions struck back again midway through the fourth quarter, getting the big touchdown reception from Jose, who out leapt two defenders on the play and raced down the middle of the field for the touchdown, making it 20-16.
The excitement for the Lions would be short-lived, however, as Mission immediately turned to Winston, who, in turn, put the game away.
After Winston’s scoring romp, the teams traded two late touchdowns in the fourth quarter (one by Winston, one by Jose) to account for the final scoring.
For the Bears, the win capped off a turbulent regular season marred by injuries and forfeits. Despite the adversity, Mission will be heading to the playoffs once again, where it will face the No. 1 seed (Balboa, Lincoln and Lowell are all still in contention).
"We didn’t put our heads down this season when things were tough," Winston said. "We came together as a team, and we showed the character that we could bounce back."
Washington 41, Burton 0
Running backs Maurice Barton (two TDs) and Keith Smith (TD) led the Eagles’ rout of the Pumas. — Amanda Stupi