Rams notch victory – finally

Almaguer state Player of the Week for play, including
last-second Hail Mary
Talk about dramatic.
It took a never-say-die attitude and a 69-yard Hail Mary
touchdown pass to do it, and in the end the Gavilan College
Football team walked off the field with a 23-21 win last Saturday
night over the College of Marin.
Almaguer state Player of the Week for play, including last-second Hail Mary

Talk about dramatic.

It took a never-say-die attitude and a 69-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to do it, and in the end the Gavilan College Football team walked off the field with a 23-21 win last Saturday night over the College of Marin.

In front of a good crowd on hand to see the Rams home opener, Gavilan quarterback A.J. Palmer, trailing 21-17, aired-out a pass with just four seconds remaining. It sailed 54 yards before being tipped into the hands of wide receiver Brandon Almaguer out of Hollister, who took it 15 yards more into the end zone with no time left on the clock.

The victory was only the school’s third in as many years and the first in nearly a year.

“We did some things well and we need to work on some things. But, it was a great win for us,” said Gavilan College Head Coach John Lango. “We’re not a bad team and we’re getting better every day.”

With the win, Gavilan is now 1-1 on the season and will square off with Sierra College tonight at Mustang Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

But Lango is quick to point out that extending the win streak won’t be easy.

For one thing, Sierra is big and strong. And for another, they’re ranked No. 12 in Northern California.

“We’ve definitely got our work cut out for us this week,” said Lango. “Merced (opening game) was ranked No. 11 in Northern California. So this team will be similar to them.”

Gavilan lost 49-7 to Merced on Sept. 13.

Against the Mariners, Gavilan worked with precision and tenacity and never gave up even after falling behind 14-6 early on. For the night, the Rams put up 426 total yards and allowed 325 yards on defense.

“It was a good win but we’ve got to continue to work hard,” said Lango. “I don’t want this team to get too satisfied because they won a game, otherwise they might not win another.”

Over the last two seasons, Gavilan is 2-18 in Coast Conference games. But Saturday’s performance showed that this team has a chance to turn it around.

After falling behind 7-0 when Marin found the end zone on its opening drive, Gavilan answered the call, scoring on a 15-yard pass play from Russell Schafer to tight end Will Lawrence. The 4:50-minute drive was kept alive after a clutch, 17-yard burst by Gavilan running back Danny Gallo, who picked up a first down on a third-and-13 play. Gallo had 106 yards on 12 carries for the game.

Schafer was 16 of 34 for 195 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He was pulled with just 2:40 remaining in the fourth quarter after suffering an ankle sprain.

Palmer, who started the opener at quarterback, played receiver against Marin before he came in and made the miraculous toss.

“He’s a great receiver,” said Lango. “And we like to play him there. But he’s also got a good arm.”

On the game-winning play, Palmer rolled to his left and hurled the pass as hard and as far as he could towards a slew of Ram receivers on the left side of the field. When the ball was tipped into Almaguer’s hands and he made his way into the end zone to the cheers of the frenzied crowd, it had capped a big night for the Rams receiver. Almaguer had seven catches for 136 yards with two touchdowns. He also kicked a field goal for the Rams in the fourth quarter and punted three times, averaging 32 yards a punt.

“He had a big night for us,” said Lango. “But the key was that the whole team never gave up. And that was a huge factor as time wore on.”

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