CARSON – Sierra Canyon’s Reggie Prince touched the football only three times. But he made the most of his opportunities.
Prince scored the first touchdown for Sierra Canyon and picked off a pass in the second half in his team’s 34-13 win over Le Grand in the CIF State Division IV bowl game at the Home Depot Center on Friday.
Sierra Canyon scored three touchdowns in the third quarter and erased an six-point, first-half deficit to win its first CIF bowl game in school history.
“I am extremely excited about this,” said Sierra Canyon coach Jon Ellinghouse. “Now the challenge is to make this a year in and year out expectation. We have everything in place and this program is in a great place. It doesn’t get any better than this. This is the pinnacle. I’m extremely excited.”
Sierra Canyon (15-0), which started its 11-man football program only three years ago, handed Le Grand (12-1), the Sac-Joaquin Valley Division V champion, its first loss of the season.
Prince gave Sierra Canyon a 7-0 lead with a 13-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.
“It felt real good getting that touchdown,” Prince said. “It feels really good to come out here and play like a team.”
But Le Grand scored the next two touchdowns to take a 13-7 lead in the first quarter. Dustin Slate scored on a seven-yard run midway through the first quarter to cut the Sierra Canyon lead to 7-6.
Le Grand took the lead on a five-yard run by Julian Nava with 49 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
“We were overwhelmed by the atmosphere in the first half,” Ellinghouse said. “Our kids were tight and our kids play great when they’re loose. Our kids were a little in awe of the atmosphere. We definitely came out in the second half and played the type of football we’re used to playing.”
Menifield scored his first touchdown of the game on a 41-yard run with 4:11 to play in the first half. Sierra Canyon took a 14-13 lead and held it until halftime.
Prince made his second big play of game, picking off a pass from Le Grand quarterback Alex Bucio on the second play of the second half. He returned the interception to the Le Grand 31-yard line and set up Danny Jordan’s first touchdown of the game.
“At halftime we were down,” said Prince, who caught two passes for 22 yards. “Everybody kept saying have fun out there, have fun. When we came back, coach told me we have to step it up and put some points on the board. When I got that interception, it just turned the game around and I felt it. It just lifted the team up.”
With Sierra Canyon up 21-13, Menifield scored the next two touchdowns. He gave Sierra Canyon a 14-point lead with a two-yard touchdown run with 5:03 in the third quarter.
He pushed the Sierra Canyon lead to 21 points with a seven-yard touchdown run with 1:35 left in the third quarter.
Menifield rushed for 137 yards in 18 carries and caught two passes for 36 yards. Preston White led Sierra Canyon in receiving with five catches for 63 yards.
Sierra Canyon quarterback Tyler Stewart threw for 163 yards and a touchdown. He was 13-for-25 passing with one interception.
Bucio threw two interceptions, one to Prince in the third quarter and the other to Brian Tucker midway through the second quarter. Le Grand committed four turnovers in the game. Tucker recovered a fumble in the second half.
The Sierra Canyon football team has come a long way in a short time and Ellinghouse said he was proud of the way his players performed in their first bowl game.
“There’s nothing better than setting a goal and achieving it,” Ellinghouse said.