GILROY – The Gavilan College Rams methodically downed the
Mendocino Eagles 35-18 Saturday afternoon at Mustang Stadium,
rebounding strongly from a 65-0 shellacking at Sierra College in
Rocklin the week previous.
The Rams shook off six intercepted passes, two lost fumbles and
six penalties to improve to 2-2 in non-conference play.
While conference play is unlikely to feature an abundance of
passing offenses, the Rams were forced to respond to a pass-happy
attack Saturday when the Eagles abandoned the running game and
threw 51 times.
GILROY – The Gavilan College Rams methodically downed the Mendocino Eagles 35-18 Saturday afternoon at Mustang Stadium, rebounding strongly from a 65-0 shellacking at Sierra College in Rocklin the week previous.
The Rams shook off six intercepted passes, two lost fumbles and six penalties to improve to 2-2 in non-conference play.
While conference play is unlikely to feature an abundance of passing offenses, the Rams were forced to respond to a pass-happy attack Saturday when the Eagles abandoned the running game and threw 51 times.
Gavilan came up with five interceptions, including the second two-pick game of the season for freshman standout safety T.J. Monroe. Ram co-captain Brian Hernandez had the most timely theft, first blocking a Ryan Baxter pass and then catching the deflection before rambling 30 yards to paydirt and a 21-0 Rams lead with 12:48 left in the half.
“Right after the game, I felt a little disappointed because I felt we should have played better,” said winning coach John Lango. “After watching the game film, I feel we did play o.k. There were too many turnovers and penalties and we looked sluggish. We were missing two offensive linemen, one because of illness and a second for a one-game suspension.
“The defense really rallied around for most of the game. It was a good team performance. Hernandez certainly played well all game.”
Gavilan’s domination through the first 20 minutes allowed the coaching staff to play many reserves. The Rams finished with 11 different ballcarriers.
Mainstay halfback El Ray Henry dominated the running game with 108 yards on 16 carries. The frosh from Yerba Buena gave the hosts a 6-0 lead with 10:44 left in the first quarter by capping a 10-play march with a spinning nine-yard burst off left tackle.
Ex-Haybaler Nick Buzzetta, starting for the first time at quarterback for Gavilan, came right back with a touchdown on the following series. Buzzetta outran the Eagles flank for a 20-yard run on the first play of the five-play drive.
Henry bulled for 16 yards and a first-and-goal. Buzzetta calmly threaded a 10-yard scoring strike to a slanting Albert Lebron with 6:22 left in the quarter. Holder Brandon Zertuche turned a muffed placement on the PAT into a rush around right end for the two-pointer and a 14-0 lead.
Mendocino, held to one safety in three previous games, finally reached the endzone when cornerback Jamaal Johnson turned an interception of a Buzzetta offering into an 85-yard TD sprint. The PAT try failed, leaving the Eagles down 21-6 with 9:52 to play in the half.
Buzzetta had two more passes picked off before Lango called on Patrick Ames to handle the position for the remainder of the game. The freshman from Carlmont responded with a 6-for-12 effort worth 193 yards and two touchdowns. Ames did suffer three interceptions and gave up two fumbles.
The Eagles hit the intermission down 21-12 by turning an Ames fumble into a nine-yard Baxter TD toss to Christopher Bautista with 2:09 left.
Rams receiver Ted Mason, who has been both hot and cold in previous games, was very hot in streaking to touchdowns of 58 and 55 yards from Ames in the second half. Mason covered 190 yards on eight grabs.
The 58-yarder was the result of Ames outleaping Bautista for a looping pass at the Eagle 20. The 55-yarder was a lofted pass behind the coverage that Mason snapped along the right sideline and easily outdistanced the field for the score with 12:31 to play in the game.
Baxter, who finished with 20 completions in 51 tries, ran six yards for the final Eagle points with 1:44 left in the third quarter.
Gavilan finished with a 398-236 edge in total offense. Mendocino netted just 10 yards on 23 attempts. Arnold Rivera and Tony Beal made interceptions for the Rams.
Lango and company have little time to savor this win because perennial power College of San Mateo visits Mustang Stadium for a 7 p.m. encounter this Saturday. The Bulldogs eased by Coast Conference member Cabrillo 71-23 Saturday afternoon. Gavilan lost 58-10 to San Mateo last year and 53-7 two years ago. The last Gavilan win over San Mateo was in 1997 by a score of 40-20.