SPHS Football | 4th and Inches: South Pasadena’s playoff run ends in a 30-27 battle with Los Osos

The hard fought ending of South Pasadena High School senior running back Jason Hong’s magical season

PHOTO: Jonathan Williams | The South Pasadenan | SPHS Football Playoff heartbreaker loss to Los Osos Friday 11-3-2023

Senior quarterback Mason Overacker rifled a pass into the endzone with less than two minutes remaining to lift Los Osos to a 30-27 CIF Southern Section Football Division 9 opening round victory Friday night over South Pasadena at Los Osos High School.

Los Osos put up over 150 yards, as Overacker threw for over 113 yards and a touchdown, rushing for 76 yards and a touchdown, totaling over 200 yards of offense for his team.

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“The o-line played a hell of a game,” Overacker said. “They were getting pushed all night…that last drive came down to the momentum. We had it going into that drive and we just kept it all the way through.”

With around two minutes remaining, Los Osos was at midfield on 4th down, needing just five yards to continue their drive. Overacker dropped back to pass to his receiver only for it to be batted down by the stern South Pasadena defense. A costly penalty flag twirled onto the green turf, injecting life into a Grizzlies team that scored 15 points in the final quarter.

“We sort of lost of a few of these tight ones,” Overacker said. “This is a microcosm of the head coach and the coaching staff we have now that was brought in really turning this program around…now we’re winning.”

For South Pasadena, senior running back Jason Hong had two touchdowns in the game, rushing for 116 yards where he accounted for over half of South Pasadena’s total offense. Hong, clearly emotional as the tears were stained black from the eye black on his cheeks, complimented his team for fighting back in the end.

“It was a great last drive,” Hong said. “I’m proud of this group of guys. They’re going to go far next year…This is our best season in a long time. League champs, 9-1, I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”

The Tigers finish the season 9-1. Friday night concludes a monster season for the senior running back and their third straight playoff appearance. Hong finished the season with 39 touchdowns on the year, securing his spot as one of the best scoring running backs in the state and top-15 in their nation.

Despite the loss, South Pasadena head coach Jeff Chi certainly is proud of his team, completing the grit they had to come into one of the toughest divisions in the region.

“Everything we do is a life lesson,” Chi said, as his eyes began to well up. “This is a heartbreaker for all of us I think. I’m proud of the way they played until the very last second.”

Los Osos’ first touchdown came in the first quarter, Overacker scoring on a 9-yard touchdown run to put the Grizzlies up 7 with 8:28 remaining. On their next drive, Los Osos struck again, scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run with 4:42 remaining. To close out the first quarter, The Tigers answered, scoring on a 31-yard touchdown run by senior running back Gio Cruz with 0:12 remaining.

After nearly eight minutes of play, Hong added to his league leading touchdown total, scoring on a 15-yard touchdown run into the endzone, bringing South Pasadena to within two points with 1:53 remaining in the first half. On their next drive, the Tigers added seven more, after a 30-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end James Dowd with 0:22 remaining in the half, tallying the score 20-16.

At halftime, South Pasadena led 20-16. South Pasadena opened with a score, Hong barreling his way through several Los Osos defenders to put the Tigers up 12 with 2:20 remaining in the third quarter.

Entering the fourth quarter, South Pasadena would not score again. Overacker would contribute to the final 15 points by the Grizzlies, taking the score to 30-27 with two minutes to go in the fourth quarter. After an impressive game-saving drive, South Pasadena had one last chance for a final drive, ending on a 4th and 5 with around 30 seconds to go, sealing their hopes of advancing to the next round.

Overacker finished 13 of 21 for 113 yards and a touchdown with a passer rating over 90, rushing for 76 yards and a touchdown.

Hong finished 116 yards and two touchdowns, ending a historic season for the senior from South Pasadena.

“As a coach, I always learn,” Chi said. “I think all these kids on a daily basis sometimes surprise me of what kind of talent they have and what kind of drive they have. They surprise us. I’m proud to be part of that and I just want to encourage and guide them on good days and bad days. We’ll bounce back tomorrow and get ready for next year for the younger guys.”

Next week, Los Osos will take on Kaiser (Fontana) in the next round.