"Fight, Fight, Fight."
That's exactly what it took in a gritty effort for the Stars to notch their first victory of the 2013 season.
And what a victory it was.
Senior quarterback Tyler Sestich found senior wide receiver Donald Olkie out of a tight end slot of an ace formation with senior tailback Shane Nunez shifting over to block for Sestich to get the pass off, and Olkie calmly caught the pass but started to lose his footing on the artificial turf of Palisades Charter High, but never lost his focus and kept his eyes on the prize...
The end zone.
Olkie's dramatic six-yard touchdown reception with 27 seconds left would lift the visiting Stars to a wild 24-21 victory over St. Monica of Santa Monica in a nonleague game. Sestich, who completed a crucial 13-yard pass to senior WR/DB Robert Bruschi on a fourth-and-10 play earlier in the Stars' final game-winning drive, would complete 7-of-14 passes for 72 yards, an interception, and of course, the game-winning touchdown.
And to think that the Mariners (1-2), who took a 21-17 lead with junior running back Jason Thomas' 14-yard touchdown run, his second score of the night, coming with 3:42 remaining in the fourth quarter, gave the Stars a gift with a shocking onside kick that Mary Star (1-1) recovered, setting them up with great field position at midfield.
Epic fail on St. Monica's part.
Early on in the game, it looked like Mary Star would run away with it by taking a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, highlighted by a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown by Bruschi on the second play of the game. Senior fullback Jonathan Chacon added a two-yard touchdown run with 2:02 left in the quarter.
St. Monica would cut the deficit down to 14-7 early in the second quarter, and drove to the Mary Star 17-yard line on their next series, but fumbled, and sophomore defensive back Vinny Lauro pounced on it for the Stars, a critical turnover which allowed Mary Star to take the slim lead into the halftime break.
Thomas' two-yard touchdown run tied the score at 14-14 with 4:04 remaining in the third quarter, but sophomore kicker Nick Renfroe's 43-yard field goal put Mary Star back up at 17-14 with 1:43 left in the third.
The Mariners would grab its first and only lead of the game on the 14-yard touchdown run by Thomas, who ran for 175 yards on 29 carries. That score capped off a near seven-minute drive that was 13 plays long, which was also aided by two strange personal foul penalties on the Stars.
Yet, through it all, Mary Star continued to fight, fight, fight... and got the result they wanted a week after being on the opposite end of a close loss at Aquinas of San Bernadino eight days ago in their season opener.
Once junior defensive back Derrick Edwards batted away the last Hail Mary pass as time expired, it was time to rejoice for these 'shining' Stars, who capped off the night by serenading their fans with the Cheer and Song teams with a hearty rendition of their alma mater.
A fitting ending to a thrilling victory.