Before the opening kickoff Friday when Hercules took the field against Kennedy High, the Hercules Titans were wearing grey uniforms. Since the Titans were the home team, they were supposed to wear dark jerseys while Kennedy wore its away whites. The Titans said they had no home jerseys on hand, and ultimately the officials gave Hercules the okay to wear the grey jerseys.
Losing that pre-game argument proved to be a bad omen for the Kennedy Eagles.
In the subsequent contest for the Tri-County Stone League Championship, and for the second year in a row, the Hercules Titans came away with the win. The Titans beat the Eagles 34-33 in a thrilling matchup that went down to the final whistle.
As soon as the refs blew the opening whistle, the tension between these two teams spilled out onto the gridiron. Yellow penalty flags rained down frequently, with players on both teams getting tagged for inciting minor scuffles after plays.
Hercules running back Josh Jackson got the scoring started early when he broke off a 76-yard touchdown run to put the Titans up 7-0. Kennedy responded, however, building and sustaining a drive that culminated in tailback Ernie Timoteo scoring a six-yard touchdown with 2:28 left in the first quarter.
On its next offensive series, Hercules fumbled the ball and the Kennedy defense scooped it up, but the turnover did not result in points for the Eagles. Later, the Titans’ Antwuin Prowes—who doubles as a wide receiver and cornerback, and is a star on the track and field team—caught a 31-yard touchdown pass to extend Hercules’ lead 14-7.
With 30 seconds left in the half, the Eagles tied the game again when Timoteo scored a rushing touchdown from three yards out.
Hercules opened the second half with a 70-yard touchdown run that electrified its fans in the home stands. The Titans would score one more time before the Eagles caught a second wind and scored two touchdowns and a two-point conversion of their own. Cheers from Eagles fans filled the stadium, while those of Hercules fans ratcheted down.
With 7:02 left in the game, the Kennedy defense forced a Hercules fumble, and recovered it. From there, Timoteo would score his fourth touchdown of the night and give the Eagles their first lead of the game.
Kennedy looked all but certain to pull out the win and go undefeated in league play, when a late unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on safety Francisco Ortez gave Hercules—which was facing third and long—a new set of downs and good field position. From there, Prowes scored for Hercules with 2:39 left in the game, putting the Titans up by one point, 34-33.
The Eagles had a final chance to make a comeback, but to no avail.
Though the Eagles did not win, they will still compete in the CIF North Coast Section playoffs. Coach Rae Jackson said he expects the team will know on Monday whom it will face in the first round.