SELMA – Staring at the specter of a 1-3 league record, the Selma High football team did what it has all season – fought back.
The Bears, en route to a 26-21 homecoming victory Friday night against Exeter (6-2, 1-2), rejected the Monarchs’ attempt on a fourth-and-one running play on their own 34-yard line. Then, taking possession down 21-20 with 2:14 left, Selma covered the distance in five plays to score on a 6-yard Junior Ramirez keeper with 25 seconds left.
Ramirez (274 total yards, four TDs — 195 passing, 84 rushing) did a flying chest bump with Chris Romero after his score. Moments later, the game ended near mid-field after two short Monarch pass attempts.
Ramirez scored the winning points, but the defense made the key play on the fourth-and-one.
“It was up to the defensive line and we knew we had it in us,” said two-way Bear lineman Martin Lucio who led the team with five tackles. “But there’s still work to do.”
Selma called a timeout before the Exeter fourth-down play, then halted bullish Monarch running back Tyler Reaser in his tracks.
“I just told them to sell out,” Bear coach Matt Logue said. “To get in a gap and make a play.”
Trailing 21-14 with 10:09 left in the game, Ramirez scored on a 6-yard run to put the Bears within a point. Logue gambled with a 2-point conversion, but Ramirez was stopped short.
Roughly seven minutes later Selma seemed to fritter away its last chance, fumbling on Exeter’s 27-yard line, with the Monarchs recovering. That's when the Bear defense responded.
The offense chipped in, too. Ricky Mota’s gritty 24-yard TD catch with a defender draped over him with 2:46 left in the third quarter tied the game at 14. Ramirez scrambled to make the throw to an ad-libbing Mota.
"They tell me to help out when Junior is scrambling and so I did," Mota said. "I saw the ball in the air and knew I had to make a play on it."
Exeter bounced right back to score, though, on a 30-yard run to go ahead 21-14.
Exeter coach Keirsten Lamb did not agree with the officials on a fourth-and-five pass interference penalty on his team that continued a Selma drive, only to lead to the Bear fumble.
“I thought our kid was getting yanked down,” Lamb said. “But our kids battled all night. It was a tough game."
Next up for the Bears (7-2 overall, 2-2 league) is visiting rival Kingsburg (6-3, 2-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.
“Throw out all the other nine games we’ve played,” Logue told his team afterward. “All that matters is (this) week."
Notes: This is rivalry week for Selma. There are dress-up activities etc. for students during the week ... Brianna Collado was named homecoming queen at Friday's game and Gibby Gonzalez homecoming king.