It’s not an embellishment to use that word to describe how Birmingham High won its CIF Division 3-AA regional bowl game 30-28 on Friday night against Del Norte in San Diego.
“I don’t think a lot of people believe what happened,” Birmingham coach Jim Rose said.
On the final play of the game, Birmingham had the ball on its 48-yard line while trailing 28-24. Quarterback Kingston Tisdell avoided the rush, stepped forward and launched a pass down the middle of the field. It went off the hands of Peyton Waters and landed in the hands of Devyn Jackson, who ran it in for a game-winning touchdown so stunning that Tisdell stayed on the turf afterward trying to comprehend what he had seen.
“That’s our guys making plays,” Tisdell said.
Birmingham (12-2), the City Section Open Division champion, appeared headed to defeat after a pass fell incomplete on fourth down with 2:32 left.
Del Norte took over at the Birmingham 39-yard line, but a missed 45-yard field-goal attempt with 28 seconds left provided Birmingham with one final opportunity. The Patriots took over on the 20 with no timeouts.
It’s a miracle finish. With no time left. Ball goes off hands of Peyton Waters into hands of Devyn Jackson. Birmingham wins 30-28!! pic.twitter.com/9A7gm1vIIG— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) December 2, 2023
Tisdell completed passes of 15 and 17 yards. He killed the clock by throwing the ball into the turf with four seconds left. The only play left was to try to connect with Waters, the reigning City player of the year, who made a one-handed touchdown grab in the third quarter. Del Norte made sure he was covered.
Then came the deflection that turned into a touchdown.
“He basically tipped it to me,” Jackson said. “I stayed focused.”
“That was a miracle,” Rose said.
Asked about the ending, Jackson said, “It’s very shocking.”
Peyton Waters with the great catch. Birmingham closes to 21-17. 2:37 left in third. pic.twitter.com/RgLJcPIGZG— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) December 2, 2023
Tisdell completed 13 of 28 passes for 225 yards and four touchdowns. Through 14 games, he has yet to throw an interception. He gets one more, a state championship game, next weekend against Acalanes at a date and site to be determined Sunday.
Defensive end Maynor Morales can catch. 15-yard TD catch on opening drive. Birmingham 7, Del Norte 0. Came on fourth and 11. pic.twitter.com/yStZ4KLJnk— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) December 2, 2023
Both teams scored on their opening possessions. Birmingham got a 15-yard touchdown catch from Maynor Morales on fourth down and Del Notre received a two-yard touchdown run from Anthony Mattar to start the second quarter. Birmingham went up 10-7 on a 27-yard field goal from Andy Bailon. Del Norte took a 14-10 halftime lead when quarterback Jack Schneider connected on a 64-yard pass play to Tyler Becker.
Birmingham took a 24-21 lead with 10 minutes left on Jomar Adams’ 11-yard touchdown catch. But the Patriots received a 15-yard penalty for celebrating. That enabled Ty Olsen of Del Norte to return the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown and a 28-24 lead.
Birmingham never led again until the crazy final play.
Dredon Fowles, filling in for an injured Ronnell Hewitt, rushed for 148 yards in 27 carries.
“It was a great game,” Rose said.
It was a huge win for City Section football. The Patriots have dominated with 42 consecutive wins against City teams, but outside the section, not so much. A 41-0 loss to Sherman Oaks Notre Dame three months ago in a nonleague game left lots of questions.
Then came the Miracle in San Diego.
“No, it wasn’t on purpose,” Waters said of the tipped pass. “It was out of desperation and worked out in our favor. That’s why you don’t give up, even on the last play, when you’re down. I couldn’t believe it. I turned around and there he was.”
Afterward, Rose gathered his players around and ended by saying, “Let’s win state.”
Birmingham's final miraculous play in slow motion as time ran out. pic.twitter.com/j4M4k3Hk7m— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) December 2, 2023
Mission Viejo and La Serna advanced to state championship games with wins Friday night, aided by strong play from their quarterbacks.
Sophomore Luke Fahey passed for 209 yards and two touchdowns as Mission Viejo defeated Granite Hills 49-21 in a Division 1-AA regional bowl, advancing the Diablos to play De La Salle. Mission Viejo is loaded with underclassmen, so playing this well in December bodes well for 2024 and stamps the Diablos in top-five territory for next season.
CJ Ceron had an 84-yard run and passed for 184 yards and two touchdowns in La Serna’s 49-32 win over Orange Vista in Division 2-AA. La Serna will play Sacramento Grant.