–– The Gavilan Rams are back in the Coast Conference title chase
after rallying past the Monterey Peninsula College Lobos 38-23
Saturday night on the loser’s turf.
Cabrillo knocked off Hartnell 30-27 in Aptos, dropping Hartnell
into third place at 1-1 along with DeAnza.
Gavilan, with a 2-1 conference record, will earn at least a
share of the conference crown with a victory over 2-0 Cabrillo
Saturday at 7 p.m. at Mustang Stadium.
By BOB BURCH
MONTEREY –– The Gavilan Rams are back in the Coast Conference title chase after rallying past the Monterey Peninsula College Lobos 38-23 Saturday night on the loser’s turf.
Cabrillo knocked off Hartnell 30-27 in Aptos, dropping Hartnell into third place at 1-1 along with DeAnza.
Gavilan, with a 2-1 conference record, will earn at least a share of the conference crown with a victory over 2-0 Cabrillo Saturday at 7 p.m. at Mustang Stadium.
“We’re right back in it,” Gavilan coach John Lango said after El Ray Henry rushed for 220 yards and five touchdowns against the out-manned Lobos.
“One of our goals was to get El Ray 200 yards rushing,” said Lango. “We weathered the punches early (trailing 7-6 at halftime) and then we felt the momentum turn our way.”
Henry, the bruising 215-pound freshman halfback out of Yerba Buena High, capped his dominating effort with a 74-yard touchdown run with 9:38 left in the game to produce a 32-7 Ram advantage. Henry, who set a personal best with the five-TD effort, credited downfield blocks by Albert Lebron and Ted Mason to complete the scoring sprint.
Henry’s 220 yards was the ninth-best performance in the 41-year history of Gavilan football. The 74-yard score was the seventh-best rushing play in Ram history. Henry has five 100-yard games this season.
Gavilan began the game on an uneven note, with the Lobos enjoying an 18-3 edge in plays from scrimmage on the way to a 7-0 lead. MPC quarterback Korey Hendrix missed a 22-yard field goal with 11:41 left in the first period, then responded to that misstep by capping a 10-play, 31-yard scoring drive with a soft pass behind the Ram secondary to Josh Morales for a touchdown.
Tight end Will Lawrence, in his most effective game of the nine-game campaign, ignited the Gavilan comeback with three catches in a 10-play, 79-yard march to a second quarter touchdown. The Gilroy High grad snared Patrick Ames passes of 13, nine and 14 yards to lead Gavilan deep into Lobo territory. An Ames-to-David Gonzalez pitch to the Lobo nine made way for a nine-yard TD bolt off right tackle for Henry. Gustavo Valdovino’s point-after kick was blocked, leaving the Rams down 7-6 with 11:59 left in the half.
After Ram linebacker Tony Beal recovered an Anthony Reyes fumble at the Gavilan 11 to stall that drive, Gavilan quarterback Nick Buzzetta led the team out of poor field position with a 39-yard spiral to Mason. Buzzetta finished the half with an 11-yard pass to Mason, who had a seven-grab, 126-yard night. Mason became just the third Gavilan receiver to amass at least 900 receiving yards in one season. The sophomore needs 59 receiving yards against Cabrillo to erase Josh Andrews’ school record.
Henry scored on runs of 5, 2 and 4 yards as Gavilan took control with 20 unanswered points in the third quarter.
Punt coverage leader Jarvis Woods was instrumental in directing the Rams toward the third quarter comeback. On consecutive Gavilan punts, Woods recovered muffs by Monterey Peninsula returnmen.
Brandon Zertuche’s first Ram punt of the second half dribbled toward return star Brian Chambers. When Chambers swatted at the bouncing ball, Woods dove on the pigskin at the MPC 15. Three Henry runs produced a 12-7 lead, the final five yards a darting effort over right guard with 10:33 left in the quarter.
Gavilan took advantage of a failed MPC fake punt to take over at the Lobos 46 with 9:26 left. Lawrence pulled in an Ames pass at the Lobo two, converting a third-and-nine. Henry leaned over the goalline with 6:03 left, Valdovinos kicking the PAT for a 19-7 lead.
T.J. Monroe moved into the state lead in interceptions with his seventh pick with 4:07 to go in the third. Defensive lineman Roy Sims set up the turnover.
The San Benito High product stuffed tailback Anthony Reyes for a two-tard loss, then bull-rushed over guard to pounce on Hendrix for an 11-yard sack to set up a third-and-23 play.
After Monroe’s interception, Mason took a two-yard swing pass and raced 30 yards to the Lobo four. Henry sliced easily through the Lobo front on the next play with 3:51 to go and Gavilan led 26-7.
Woods recovered a second Lobo muff of a Ram punt in the first minute of the fourth quarter to delay the Lobo’s comeback bid.
Eddie Sumpter intercepted one of the 53 passes tried by Hendrix with 10:02 left in the contest. After two incompletions, Henry took over with his game-clinching 74-yard romp.
Monterey Peninsula added some intrigue in the closing six minutes. Hendrix fired a six-yard TD pass to Saimoni Lesu with 5:43 left, then turned a successful onside kick into a scoring drive that Hendrix completed with a 20-yard pass to Rashaad Peay.
Gavilan put the final touch on the score when Zertuche faked a hand-off to Henry, then flipped a 26-yard pass to the goalline that Mason pulled down in front of a Lobo defender with 2:50 left.
Ames covered 159 yards on a 10-of-12 passing performance. Lawrence turned five catches into 71 yards. Gavilan enjoyed a 431-343 edge in total offense. The Lobos were limited to 50 yards on 25 rushes, but turned a 29-of-53 night for Hendrix into 293 passing yards.