OAKLAND — With 15.1 seconds left in regulation, Mission defensive back Emare Sumpter strutted towards his sideline, high stepping after blocking what would have been Oakland High School’s game-winning PAT.
As the Wildcats readied to kick off, a young man came over the unguarded railing separating the home stands from the track and the visiting Mission team. He sucker-punched one of the Bears’ ineligible players who was standing on the sideline, setting off a melee as players defended themselves and their teammate.
More fans jumped onto the field as Mission defended their player, and an all-out brawl endured for approximately a minute before order was restored. Police were called. Mission’s bus was pulled around onto Park Ave., trailed by two Oakland PD cruisers. The stands were emptied, the field cleared and the game was called, ending in a 20-20 tie.
“We are so sorry,” one Oakland father said to head coach Tobias Whitley. “That wasn’t us. You guys played a good game. It was a good-ass game.”
Oakland police would not comment beyond saying the incident was “a small fight,” and the identity of the assailent was not available. The Examiner was not able to ascertain whether he was a student at Oakland High School, but he appeared to be an adolescent.
According to observers, there had been jawing going back and forth between a group of young men in the front row of the home stands during a chippy Mission drive in the waning moments of the game.
The drive saw no fewer than six Oakland penalties accepted, including two for unnecessary roughness. One of those flags came when an Oakland defensive lineman suplexed quarterback Jamareia Burroughs.
Four penalties came on a single play, as the Bears’ Matthew Cohn turned a bad snap on a punt into a first down run on fourth-and-seven at the Mission 23. Defensive holding and unnecessary roughness for a hit out of bounds helped move the Bears to the Oakland 45, and another massive, late hit drew a personal foul penalty on a Sumpter run.
After the suplex on Burroughs drew a flag, the Bears quarterback ran down to the five-yard line, but on three shots at the end zone, Mission came up empty. A missed field goal drew yet another foul, but Burroughs missed a throw to Cohn on fourth-and-six, giving the ball back to the Wildcats with 2:47 to go, a disappointing end for Whitley, who serves as offensive coordinator.
“None of my guys retaliated on any of those,” Whitley said.
Oakland drove 88 yards for the score. A fourth-and-two fade to the front left corner of the end zone that looked to be intercepted by Cohn, but was instead called pass interference, and on the ensuing play, the Wildcats got a 23-yard touchdown pass.
“I think we did hold them, but they gave us a bad PI,” Whitley said. “A part of that PI caused a lot of this, too, because the game’s over right there. He intercepted the ball.”
As the ensuing kickoff was being sorted out, a group of young men descended from the stands, unbeknownst to the Bears. Mission — like Galileo two weeks ago — was situated on the near sideline, mere yards from the home stands containing Oakland’s fans. In the past, the visiting team had stood on the sideline farthest from the stands.
One young man in jeans and a white t-shirt was seen wailing on a Mission player’s back as he tried to extricate the original victim — a lineman identified by coaches only as Igor — from under a pile of opposing fans.
“We’ve traveled here, we’ve played McClymonds, we’ve played a lot of different teams, and we’ve never had this,” Whitley said. “They never secured the sidelines. They can’t have it like that. I’ve seen Pop Warner games where they don’t even let anybody get on the track here.”
It was a messy ending to an otherwise compelling game that saw the shorthanded Bears — missing upwards of 10 players due to academic eligibility issues — grind against a team that won seven games a year ago and was already 2-1 on the young season.
Mission went up 12-0 thanks to a nifty pump-fake, 24-yard touchdown pass from Jamareia Burroughs to Matthew Cohn with 7:51 to go in the second quarter, then a 50-yard catch-and-run screen for a touchdown by Will Delaney four minues later.
The Wildcats cut the lead to 12-7 with a quarterback option run with 24.1 seconds to go before the half, but the Bears opened the third quarter with a three-play scoring drive, capped by a 52-yard touchdown toss from Burroughs to a streaking Julian Middleton, followed by a Burroughs rumble for the two-point conversion.
A Mission fumble led to a 12-yard Oakland touchdown run with 7:47 to go.
The Bears got 65 yards on four carries from Delaney and an impressive debut from Ida B. Wells transfer Noah Lee, who added two catches and 14 rushing yards on five attempts to a 22-yard punt return.
Burroughs went 10-for-16 for 109 yards passing.
Defensive end Julian Neal also shined before a hip flexor knocked him out, as did Sumpter and Delaney, who each had seven tackles, with Delaney adding a tackle for loss and one of Missions three sacks. Tyreke Laurent had three tackles and a tip
“I think we’re going to be 100 percent better, we’re going to be ready to go,” Whitley said of the raft of ineligible players who will be cleared by the start of league play. “I think the AAA knows that we’re going to come for them, and I feel like we’re going to have a big season. I feel like we’ve got a championship team. We’re not padding our record. We’re playing teams that are in contention.”
Mission coaches lobbied Oakland Section officials for a forfeit, due to the unsecured sideline and the lack of screening at the gate, but to no avail.