The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.
The562’s coverage of Jordan Athletics is sponsored by John Ross, Class of 2013.
In one of the best Moore League football games in recent memory, Millikan outlasted Jordan in a wild last-second thriller. There were four lead changes in the last five minutes of the game, before Myles Jackson found Jaden Hunt for a 17-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left to give the Rams a 58-54 victory over the Panthers.
“It was a crazy game, it’s a blessing to be in a game like that,” said Rams receiver/defensive back Ryan Pellum, the reigning Moore League Player of the Year. “We need games like that to get us ready.”
It was an especially impressive win for Millikan given that it came the day after the school’s administration announced that it was forfeiting its four wins so far this season due to use of an ineligible player. Head coach Romeo Pellum did not coach the game, and Rams assistant coach Angel Molina was elevated to interim coach in his absence.
Molina did not speak with media after the game to discuss his team’s big win Friday night as Millikan’s administration said they would not allow coaches to do interviews.
Although Jordan (4-1, 1-1) picked up its first loss of the season, head coach Jon Nielsen was understandably pleased with the way his Panthers competed.
“We’re ahead of the curve, I’m playing on house money,” said Nielsen. “We’re not supposed to do anything. If we were 0-5 right now I’d be coaching the same way. We happen to be 4-1. I had an idea in my head of what the record is going to be and we’re on pace. When we start to click going into playoffs, we’re gonna be different.”
Friday’s game was one for the ages. It opened with Millikan taking a lead on a fumble recovery in the end zone by Angelo Miranda, but a big kick return by Jacob Hernandez set up the Panthers and they got a quick touchdown from star running back Jordan Washington. Pellum returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to give Millikan a 14-6 lead after less than three minutes of game time. Later in the quarter, QB Myles Jackson hit Pellum for a 74 yard score that put the Rams up 21-6.
The Panthers didn’t back down, however. QB JJ Nielsen gave it to Washington on a shovel pass and he took it 23 yards for the score to cut the lead to 21-14. Jordan cut it to 21-20 on a short TD run by Khalii Hicks. Millikan scored on the next possessions as Jackson found Matt Martinez for a 17-yard score that made it 28-20.
Jordan would score 20 points unanswered after that, however, as Washington closed out the first half with his third TD of the night to make it 28-26 at the break. The Panthers got the ball to start the second half and scored on a 53-yard Washington run to take the lead. They then got an onside kick and scored on a TD pass from Nielsen to Gerald Pickens that made it 40-28 early in the third quarter.
To Millikan’s credit, they fought back. On their next drive, Jackson found Jordan Anderson down the left sideline for a 36-yard strike to make it a one-score game. After Pellum was able to get a tip on a Jordan field goal attempt to help send it wide, Millikan retook the lead on an 18-yard touchdown run by Jaden Hunt. The score remained 43-40 Millikan until midway through the fourth quarter, as both teams’ defenses made big plays. Jonjon To’omalatai had an interception for Jordan to end a promising drive by Millikan, and the Rams ended Jordan drives on sacks by Craig Gordon and Ethan Steffany.
Then things got crazy. Jordan scored on Washington’s fifth TD of the night to take a 48-43 lead with 4:17 left in the game. Millikan immediately answered and got a 41-yard touchdown from Jackson to Hunt to go up 51-48 with 3:20 left.Jordan answered as well, as Nielsen kept it himself to put the Panthers up 54-51 with 1:02 left.
But Jackson calmly guided his team down the field, then hit Hunt who dodged a couple of would-be tacklers on the way into the end zone to give Millikan a 58-54 lead with 11 seconds left. This time, the lead remained, giving Millikan an emotional and critical win. Even having forfeit their win over Wilson last week, they control their league destiny and still have a very good chance to get into the playoffs.
Stars for the Rams included Jackson (22/35 389 yards, 5 TDs, 2 INTs), Pellum (165 yards receiving and a touchdown, plus a kickoff return for a touchdown) and Hunt (200 total yards and three scores). For Jordan, it was the Washington show as he put up five scores and 205 total yards of offense. QB JJ Nielsen had his best game of the year throwing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers.
“He’s the real deal, our quarterback is real,” said coach Nielsen. “The next two and a half years are going to be fun, we’re going to be fun.”
Millikan will host Long Beach Poly next week while Jordan visits Lakewood.