At every level football is a physical game, so when South Pasadena High’s Jeremy Gabler sustained a neck injury after a helmet-to-helmet collision with Glendale junior running back Luis Ruiz and the score, 23-7, in favor of the host Nitros with 2:23 left in last Friday night’s nonleague contest, it was called.
Gabler is a defensive back who after the hit laid motionless on the ground for more than 10 minutes, and was later taken to a local hospital by ambulance.
“They’re a well-coached team and they played hard,’’ said Glendale Head Coach John Tuttle of South Pasadena, who collected 212 total net yards. “I thought we came up on defense and did a good job in the second half, especially on the opening drive, but I’m hoping the young man is going to be okay. Right now Luis is in tears.”
The Nitros (2-1) used a 16-point second half and the scoring began on the opening 80-yard, 13-play march that culminated with senior quarterback Kevin Felix (10 of 15 for 93 yards and one interception) sneaking in from a yard out and 5:27 left in the third quarter for a 13-7 lead.
It became a nine-point advantage after Martin Marin’s 24-yard field goal with 2:17 showing in the third quarter after junior linebacker Daniel Jung intercepted South Pasadena quarterback Michael Partida and returned the ball 28 yards. Jung also had a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter.
The finishing touch came when Glendale took over at its 29-yard line after South Pasadena punted. Felix used six plays including a 53-yard burst from Ruiz (12 carries for 111 yards) that placed the ball at the Tigers’ three-yard line.
One play later, Jung, who had 76 yards on 10 carries in the opening half, and finished with 111 yards on 19 rushes, raced up the middle to make it 23-7 with 6:48 remaining in the final quarter.
Neither team scored in the first quarter, but South Pasadena (1-2) opened a 7-0 lead with 2:05 left before the half when Partida (five for eight and 85 yards with one pick) drove the Tigers 57 yards on 13 plays and running back Matt Ayala (31 yards on seven carries) scoring on a two-yard run.
The Nitros, who had 221 yards on the ground and 314 total yards, tied it at 7-7 with 32 seconds left in the second quarter when Felix lofted a 27-yard spiral to sophomore wide receiver Ricky Loudermill (five receptions for 66 yards).