SAN GABRIEL - Once the Santa Ana winds subsided, the San Gabriel High football team saw its magical playoff run continue - by a knee - Saturday night, barely beating visiting San Dimas High, 29-28, in the CIF Southern Section Mid-Valley Division semifinal game.
With the win, the Matadors will play host and defending champion Monrovia High next Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. in the championship game.
San Gabriel was led by quarterback Andy Guerrero. Guerrero rushed for 94 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown and completed 17 of 28 pass attempts for 228 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Trailing, 22-14 late in the third quarter, the Matadors started to come back. They marched 64 yards in seven plays, capping the drive off with a 38-yard Guerrero touchdown pass to Joseph Mayorga.
After completing the two-point conversion, the game was tied at 22 with 57 seconds left in the third quarter.
San Gabriel took a seven-point lead with 6:15 left in the game. Starting on their own 32-yard line, Guerrero took the Matadors methodically well within the red zone and had Mayorga cap the 11-play drive with a two-yard scamper across the goal line.
But the game wasn't over. San Dimas - a team that beat San Gabriel on its home turf in October, 59-6 - came back from its own 42-yard line and eventually saw running back Devante Brown cross the goal line with 2:23 left to make the score, 29-28.
The Saints chose to go for two points and ran the same exact play as the previous one. With Brown charging toward the end zone, the Matador defense was able to force down his knee with inches to spare and preserve the victory.
Matador coach Jude Oliva said most expected his team to be blown out by San Dimas a second time.
"Everybody thought it was going to be the same," he said. But the kids worked hard and we did it. It's an eight-game winning streak. We're just believing anything can happen."
(Shel Segal can be reached at