Another exciting chapter in the lore of the Gavilan-Hartnell
football rivalry was written Saturday night at Hollister’s Andy
Hardin Field. The Gavilan Rams stumbled to a 21-0 deficit after
three quarters, then pounded relentlessly at the Panther defense
before finally falling 21-14 in Coast Conference play before a
homecoming game crowd.
By BOB BURCH
Another exciting chapter in the lore of the Gavilan-Hartnell football rivalry was written Saturday night at Hollister’s Andy Hardin Field. The Gavilan Rams stumbled to a 21-0 deficit after three quarters, then pounded relentlessly at the Panther defense before finally falling 21-14 in Coast Conference play before a homecoming game crowd.
“They weren’t going to fold,” Hartnell coach Larry Souza said of the opposition. “You’re never up enough points because they have a lot of talent. Gavilan came to play, they made second-half adjustments and they spread us out. I was nervous the whole game.”
Hartnell is 1-0 in conference competition, while the Rams, seeking at least a share of the conference title, fell 1-1 entering Saturday night’s game at Monterey Peninsula College against the Lobos.
The Gavilan football team, still a work in progress, learned much from the 60 minutes in combat with the Salinas-based foe.
Coach John Lango holds onto the belief that his ever-evolving team will emerge with a conference co-title.
“We do need some help,” said Lango, aware that Hartnell must stumble at least once in the next three games. “We’ll go back, look at the film of this game and continue to work.”
Hartnell needed help in the game’s final 15 minutes. Trailing by three touchdowns, Gavilan came up with two touchdowns, had a third negated by an illegal procedure penalty, then had the football in Panther territory in the final 94 seconds before an interception clinched the Panther win.
The Panthers received a 163-yard rushing effort by halfback Chris Brown, including 149 yards in the decisive first half.
“Chris has matured,” said Souza. “He knew he was the go-to guy, we re-enforced that all week in practice with him.”
Gavilan covered 110 yards and made six first downs in the hectic fourth quarter, while Hartnell was limited to one first down.
The fourth quarter Ram domination was necessary after the Panthers scored one touchdown in each of the first three quarters.
Hartnell, coming off a bye week which meant two weeks of preparation for the Gavilan game, struck on its first possession.
Brown capped a seven-play, 42-yard march after a short Ram punt by scoring from eight yards out with 10:45 left in the quarter.
Gavilan’s defense forced two turnovers, but neither fumble recovery in Ram territory in the second quarter could lead to a sustained offense thrust.
Gavilan starting quarterback Nick Buzzetta collected one rushing first down with a 10-yard sprint, but connected on just one of 14 pass attempts for 12 yards in his 30 minutes of work.
Hartnell took a 14-0 lead at the 9:25 mark of the second quarter when fullback Jon Hoffman bulled over from the one to complete a 75-yard, seven-play drive. Brown highlighted the series with a 42-yard scamper.
The Panthers turned a 53-yard punt return in the third quarter into a 27-yard scoring drive. Hoffman snared an Andy Palacio swing pass to go the final four yards to the 21-0 cushion with 7:24 left.
Patrick Ames passed for 166 yards in a 15-for-27 second half for the Rams. El Ray Henry, logging his fourth 100-yard performance for Gavilan, highlighted a 104-yard night with a 26-yard dash off right tackle with 14:46 left in the game for the first home touchdown.
Gavilan forced another Panther fumble two plays into the next series. Gavilan took a chance when facing a fourth-and-10 at the Panther 40, but Ames and Will Lawrence hooked up for a touchdown that was negated when Gavilan was found to have only six men on the line of scrimmage.
Lawrence, the sophomore out of Gilroy High, made a leaping catch, then swung under the potential tackle of the Panther corner and out-raced the Hartnell safeties to the end zone.
Forced to punt on fourth-and-15, Gavilan forced a Hartnell punt thee plays later and took possession on the enemy 39. Three Henry rushes gained a first down at the 25. Ames then threaded a soft pass to the left front pylon to Ted Mason for the 25-yard touchdown with 8:41 left and Gavilan down seven.
Gavilan went three-and-out on the next series, but had a final opportunity from the Ram 27 after a Hartnell punt. After Ames suffered an eight-yard sack, he faced a fourth-and-18 with 2:23 to play.
Ames drilled a high pass near midfield that John Murphy snared for the first down. Mason earned another first down with a catch at the Panther 37.
On the next play, Ames was in the grasp of a Panther lineman when he fired a pass down the middle of the first that dropped into the hands of a Hartnell linebacker.
Hartnell, with 211 rushing yards, finished with 335 yards in total offense. Gavilan netted 261 yards in total offense. Mason made five catches worth 71 yards, David Gonzalez five for 28.