Brahmas’ late comeback comes up just short against Rowland

Due to early offensive struggles and  Rowland’s ability to capitalize on defensive lapses, the Brahmas suffered a tough loss against the Raiders in the team’s most competitive match of the year, losing 22-14. 

The offense did most of their damage in the second half, with Diamond Bar High School’s junior wide receiver Blake Davis catching three passes for 70 yards, while junior  Josiah Hunter rushing for 103 yards on 22 carries. These athletes produced the two Brahma touchdowns. 

However, the star quarterback Elias Bane and running back Tye Louis Coleman for Rowland proved insurmountable to defend, consistently carrying the Raiders into the red zone and generating numerous scoring opportunities. 

The Brahmas had a rough start to the game, as their initial offensive drive featured a quick three-and-out. Stopping the Rowland offense in Brahma territory, Diamond Bar started on their own one-yard line after a perfect punt by the Raiders and gave up a safety due to a heavy blitz on senior quarterback Dylan Karanickolas. 

After regaining the ball, the Raiders reached the end zone following an eleven-yard pass play and a 25-yard pitch to Coleman. The Brahmas nearly scored on their next drive through Hunter’s efforts and by drawing a pass interference penalty, only to be stopped in the red zone with a four-down turnover. The first quarter ended 9-0 in favor of Rowland.

In the second quarter, the Diamond Bar defense forced another three-and-out, only to return to the field as the Brahma punt returner fumbled the Raider punt attempt. Following a long screen-play by their back, the Raiders were forced to kick a field goal due to the Brahma red zone defense, increasing the lead to a dozen. 

As the Brahma offense retained possession, Karanickolas again was faced with daunting pressure, running out of the pocket and making inaccurate throws to the sidelines. Following another Brahma punt, a 38-yard scramble play by the Bane allowed the Raiders another field goal, ending the first half 15-0.

However, at the start of the second half  the momentum shifted. A successful onside-kick by the Brahma special teams allowed Diamond Bar to regain the football inside Raider territory. 

On the first play, Karanickolas threw a pass that was tipped by the Raider secondary only to  land in the hands of Davis, who crossed into the endzone untouched, dwindling the Rowland lead to 15-7. After forcing another three-and-out, the defensive adjustment by the Raiders moved more players into coverage, opening up the Brahma run game.

In their next drive, Karanickolas kept feeding the ball to Hunter, who ran the Brahmas to  the 15-yard line. After drawing a holding penalty on Rowland, Hunter broke loose up the middle to score a touchdown, doubling the Brahmas’ score and bringing them within one-point with twelve minutes left to play, 15-14.

The final quarter featured long possessions from Rowland that contributed to the lack of time the Brahmas had to complete the comeback. After trading multiple three down stops, Karanickolas threw an incompletion when the team went for it on  fourth down in their own territory with three minutes remaining.

On the ensuing possession, Coleman continued to deal damage against the Diamond Bar defense, adding another touchdown with roughly two minutes to spare. Desperate for yardage, Karanickolas salvaged some distance through scrambles and pass plays, but eventually threw his only interception after heaving the ball into double coverage. 

The Brahmas are 2-3 and will next travel to Montclair on Oct. 4.