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Football Jordan Wilson

Football: Jordan Wins Classic Thriller Against Wilson

The562’s coverage of football in 2023-24 is sponsored in part by the MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center Foundation and Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Foundation

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.

Wilson and Jordan’s Friday night football Moore League battle had just about everything. High-flying action, crazy calls, and two lead changes in the final minute of the game. In the end, it was the Panthers who made the most plays, losing the lead with 40 seconds left but then getting it back on a game-winning touchdown pass from JJ Nielsen to Jake Bautista. That lifted the visitors to a huge win that set off a big celebration on the Jordan sideline, following their 49-43 instant classic victory.

“This was probably the biggest program win we’ve had, for us to get over that hump,” said Jordan coach Jon Nielsen. “It was a big win for us–I’m proud of our kids, we’re fighting. This was a good game to see them come back and win.”

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The Panthers took a 42-21 lead in the fourth quarter and the Bruins looked dead in the water. But Christian Chapman scored to cut the lead to 14 points with 4:37 left, and then Wilson’s Kaden Draper recovered a Jordan fumble to get it back for the Bruins. They ended up scoring on that drive on a 24-yard pass from Mack Cooper to Chapman, cutting Jordan’s lead to 42-35 with 2:43 left in the game. With the Bruins only possessing two timeouts and the Panthers having Arizona commit Jordan Washington in the backfield, that looked like it might be the game. But the Bruins recovered another fumble, this one with 1:10 left. Laighton Scott V fell on the fumble to give it back to the Bruins, with no timeouts remaining.

The Wilson offense came to life. After three incompletions, the Bruins got a first down on a personal foul by Jordan, moving the ball to the Jordan 38 yard line. There, Cooper launched a pass over the middle for Max Barbee, who scampered in for a touchdown. Wilson coach Scott Meyer immediately signaled that he wanted to go for the two-point conversion–and the Bruins got it on a run by Chapman, putting them up 43-42, and setting off a crazy celebration on the Wilson sideline and in the Homecoming stands.

But while it would have been easy for Jordan to lay down after giving up 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, the Panthers kept fighting. They got a big kickoff return that set them up at midfield. Then, after back-to-back incompletions, they drew a roughing the passer penalty on a late hit on Nielsen. That put them at the Wilson 21 yard line with 31 seconds left. Nielsen launched a perfect ball to the left pylon where Jake Bautista snagged it for his second touchdown catch of the night, putting Jordan back on top 49-43, just 25 seconds after they’d lost the lead they’d held virtually all game. 

“I just tried to stay composed, stay in the moment, in the next play,” said JJ Nielsen.

Wilson still had life as they got the ball back in Jordan territory with 17 seconds left. This time the deep passes didn’t connect, and Washington came flying over to knock away their final pass.

“We just couldn’t let ourselves lose,” said Washington. “This was from that Millikan game last year. We had to pull this out, I had to make a play I couldn’t let my team lose.”

Washington had 201 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 15 carries and added 54 yards receiving. Nielsen had 230 yards passing and two touchdowns, including the game-winner; he also ran for two scores. Receiver Deonte Tucker had 10 catches for 129 yards while Bautista had four catches for 60 yards and two touchdowns.

“Everyone made a big deal, but I’ve got the two best running backs in the Moore League,” said Jordan coach Jon Nielsen. “Jordan Washington and then JJ. JJ is a dual threat.”

For Wilson, running backs Chapman and Scott continued to excel, as Chapman had 221 total yards and three touchdowns and Scott had 66 yards and a score, plus the fumble recovery. Cooper had 236 yards and two touchdowns for the Bruins, with Barbee hauling in 85 yards of passes. 

Wilson coach Scott Meyer was proud of his team’s fight.

“It was a Hell of a game, I’m so proud of our guys, they’re down 42-21 and I think they kind of had the feeling it was all over and we just kept fighting and fighting,” said Meyer.

Jordan (6-2, 2-2) will visit Cabrillo next week then close the regular season at home against Poly. Wilson (3-5, 2-3) will visit Lakewood next week.

VIDEO: Jordan vs. Wilson, Football
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Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.