Point Loma’s bid for Division III high school football crown falls short in loss to University City
The 33-28 defeat ends the Pointers’ season with a 10-3 record.
Samuel Cooper put his team on his back, carrying University City High School to its first CIF San Diego Section football championship as the top-seeded Centurions held off No. 2 seed Point Loma, 33-28, in the Division III title game Nov. 25 at Southwestern College in Chula Vista.
Point Loma’s season ended with a 10-3 record. University City (11-2) advances to the Southern California playoffs.
The game was rematch of the teams’ October regular-season matchup, also won by the Centurions, 13-7.
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This time, Cooper, University City’s 6-foot-3, 230-pound quarterback, rushed 17 times for 112 yards and a touchdown while throwing for 193 yards and three scores. He also was on the “hands team” for a late onside kick by the Pointers.
University City tight end Cayden Dawson played left tackle as an injury replacement and also was a force on defense, intercepting a pass near the end of the first half and returning it 27 yards to the Point Loma 11 to set up a score with no time on the clock.
Cooper connected with Dreyden Garner on a 47-yard touchdown to open the scoring.
Point Loma countered with a 58-yard TD from quarterback Maxim Newbegin to Noah Turbeville.
The Pointers took the lead with a 15-play, 69-yard, nearly eight-minute drive, with Chase Lowary scoring from a yard out.
After Dawson’s interception, Cooper’s 11-yard TD pass to Joshua Dixon tied the score at the half.
Cooper’s 3-yard TD run capped a 15-play, 80-yard drive to open the second half and give the Centurions the lead.
But the Pointers went ahead, 21-20, on Newbegin’s 21-yard run.
Then Cooper passed 68 yards to Garner for a score and ran 35 yards for another.
Point Loma got within five points with 48 seconds left on a 44-yard TD pass from Newbegin to Aaron Lee.
“University City stuck with its plan in the second half and got yards,” said Point Loma coach Joel Allen. “Three yards and a cloud of dust is a real thing with Cooper.”
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University City ran 37 second-half plays to 15 for Point Loma.
“We got behind and the coaches told us to stay the course,” Cooper said. “We held them and things came together for us. Honestly, though, hats off to Point Loma. That’s one helluva team we played.”
The Pointers hoped to put the Centurions “in situations where they couldn’t just fall forward, but they kept the ball away from us,” Allen said.
Nevertheless, the 2022 season marked a turnaround for Point Loma’s football program in Allen’s second full season as coach. The Pointers played just one game of a scheduled five-game spring 2021 season that had been delayed and truncated by the COVID-19 pandemic, canceling the rest of their schedule because of a shortage of players.
In the fall 2021 season, Point Loma went 4-6, followed by a first-round playoff loss.
This season, the Pointers made it to the Division III final following one-sided playoff victories over Morse and Del Norte. They went 7-0 overall at home.
“My kids worked really hard to be a championship team,” Allen said. “We were pretty close.”
— Point Loma-OB Monthly staff contributed to this report.