In what could only be described as an instant classic, Coronado knocked off bitter rival Franklin in the Westside Bowl 35-28 on Thursday night, securing the final playoff spot in District 1-6A.  It was the first time that the T-Birds have beaten the Cougars since 2013.  The setting was perfect as It was one of the better attended games between these two at the Sun Bowl, on what was a majestic evening with nearly a full moon that rose above the mountains.

The back and forth battle began with the Cougars striking first when QB Matt Heifner found WR Gabe Stonewall for a 20 yard touchdown on a 4th and 5 play to give Franklin the 7-0 edge with 7:17 left in the opening quarter.  The Cougars looked to be firmly in control when they went up 14-0 thanks to a Coronado fumble on the ensuing kickoff.  The T-Birds got right back in to the game at the 3:14 mark of the opening quarter when the jack of all trades, Jose Luis Herrera scored on a 10 yard keeper to make it a 14-7 contest.

Photo by Brandon Cohn

Franklin RB Seth Dominguez gave the Cougars a 21-7 edge with 3 seconds remaining in the first quarter with a 20 yard TD.  Coronado would go on to kick a 36 yard field goal and QB Angelo Donatelli found Steven Martinez for a 37 yard score to pull within 4 points at half time, 21-17.  Coronado got the ball to open the second half and went on a drive that consumed over 7 minutes resulting in another field goal.

With the Cougars leading 21-20, both teams got sloppy by committing back-to-back fumbles on their next possessions.  Franklin RB Seth Dominguez  went on to score a 3 yard touchdown with :55 seconds left in the third quarter; his third of the game to give his squad a 28-20 lead.  No lead was safe in this wild game though as Coronado stormed back when Jose Luis Herrera took the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for the touchdown, and ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game up at 28.

Photo by Brandon Cohn

Every great story has a spectacular ending filled with drama, this game mirrored that until the very end as Coronado took their first lead of the game at 35-28 when Jose Luis Herrera scored on a 6 yard TD run with 2:28 left in the contest.  Franklin had one final chance as they drove down the field and got to the T-Birds 20, but failed to score on two long pass attempts to the end zone as time expired.

Without question, this was one of the best Westside Bowls that these two teams have ever played, and one of the better high school football games that one could have witnessed.  For the T-Birds, Jose Luis Herrera finished with 262 all purpose yards and 3 touchdowns, QB Angelo Donatelli went 10 for 14 with 114 yard and a TD, while Franklin RB Seth Dominguez had 24 carries for 147 yards and 3 TD's, and QB Matt Heifner went 13 for 20 with 116 yards and a TD.

With the win, Coronado moves to 4-5, 3-3 in District 1-6A, solidifying the final playoff spot in the district.  They will conclude their 2017 regular season at Socorro next Friday.  Franklin falls to 3-6, 2-4 in District 1-6A, and will host Americas to end their season next Thursday.