SAN JACINTO — San Jacinto coach Aric Galliano knew that if the Tigers could continue to pound the running game that they would eventually find a way through.
Malachi Brown scored with 21.9 seconds remaining, and Dereun Dortch ran in the two-point conversion as San Jacinto rallied for a 15-14 victory over Calabasas Friday night in a CIF-Southern Section Division 6 semifinal round game.
“They did a great job stopping our run gun and forcing us to make some adjustments at halftime,” said Galliano, who was in tears afterward. “We just had to continue to pound and continue to pound and continue to pound, and we made some plays at the end.”
Dortch totaled more than 150 all-purpose yards in the second half as San Jacinto (11-2 overall) won its eighth consecutive game overall.
The Tigers advance to play the Orange in the championship game next week.
“It was just teamwork and believing in each other. I swear I couldn’t do it without my teammates,” Dortch said. “That last play I thought I had lost us the game but I had faith.”
Alonzo Contreras passed for two touchdowns but it wasn’t enough for Calabasas (8-5), which led 14-7 but missed short field goal in the fourth quarter to seal the game.
“We did a good job in the first half really trying to slow down their running game. They’re an explosive team. They usually score 50 points per,” Calabasas coach Cary Harris said.
San Jacinto’s biggest players have stepped up during this deep playoff run, with Dillon Gresham earning Inland area Player of the Week honors after hauling in 10 passes for 238 yards and three scores in a 51-32 win over Oak Park in the quarterfinals last week.
Dortch connected with Gresham four times for 58 yards but the Tigers, who haven’t scored fewer than 42 points since a one-point loss to Beaumont in September, scored just seven points in the first half.
Turnovers nearly doomed San Jacinto, as Dortch fumbled twice to kill drives in the second third quarter.
“I’ve been preaching all season that we have to eliminate those mistakes,” Galliano said.
Coming off a 35-14 win over Ramona in the quarterfinals, Calabasas clung to seven-point lead but shanked a 23-yard field goal before Dortch chewed up the Coyotes defense for 80 yards on game-winning drive.
Calabasas senior King Harris finished with 100 rushing yards on 12 second-half carries.