Rams earn share of conference title

Willie Gamboa causes a fumble that Gavilan returned for a touchdown Saturday.

GILROY
–– Rain, sloppy field conditions and Coast Conference-leading
Cabrillo stood in the way of the Gavilan Rams Saturday night at
Mustang Stadium.
One by one, Coach John Lango’s Rams responded with clarity. In
the end, smiles all around became the common thread from the home
side of the field as Gavilan earned at least a share of the
conference title with a 20-13 nod over the Seahawks.
By BOB BURCH

GILROY –– Rain, sloppy field conditions and Coast Conference-leading Cabrillo stood in the way of the Gavilan Rams Saturday night at Mustang Stadium.

One by one, Coach John Lango’s Rams responded with clarity. In the end, smiles all around became the common thread from the home side of the field as Gavilan earned at least a share of the conference title with a 20-13 nod over the Seahawks.

“It’s a feeling I’ve never had before,” said Lango after his first championship as a head coach at any level.

“We have 10 players from Hollister who have had that feeling by winning a championship. We wanted this football team to give other players that same opportunity.”

Although the Rams finished the regular season Saturday night, the team will return to the practice field Tuesday for three afternoons of practice. At 3-1 atop the conference and 5-5 overall, Gavilan may earn a bowl game bid once the final weekend of the Coast Conference has been played.

Lango listed a half-dozen key plays in the Rams’ comeback victory, although two scoring plays stood out.

Janall Arthur snapped a 6-6 tie with 7:50 left in the second quarter by picking up a Cabrillo fumble and jetting 97 yards to a touchdown.

After Cabrillo erased the Gavilan lead with a fourth-quarter touchdown, Gavilan responded to the 13-12 deficit with a crisp five-play drive to the winning touchdown, a 54-yard right end sweep by El Ray Henry.

The freshman out of Yerba Buena High stormed through the 1,000-yard barrier with his 14th scoring play of the season.

The Gavilan defense then forced one Cabrillo punt before closing out the season by making Cabrillo run out of downs on a final possession at the Ram 40-yard line.

“I thought our kids played pretty well, although we let down a little bit at times,” said Cabrillo coach Steve Cox. “Gavilan came to play and they played hard. They got a ton of breaks, but they made a lot of their breaks because their kid (Henry) did a heck of a job. When he breaks open, he’s able to run by people.

Cabrillo managed to produce a 283-208 edge in total offense, as well as 16-11 in first downs. Henry covered 175 yards in 32 carries. Cabrillo’s Loren Jensen, tied with Henry atop the conference rushing chase entering the game, was sidelined with a leg injury.

Patrick Ames went the distance at quarterback for Gavilan, finishing with a 4-for-6 night passing for 38 yards and one touchdown. Cabrillo’s Andrew Wick covered 125 yards on a 13-for-26 effort, along with 40 yards rushing.

Rain began just as the opening kick-off was whistled. The field was still in good shape when Gavilan forced a three-and-out for Cabrillo and took over at the Ram 29.

A 22-yard scamper by Henry put the Rams at the Cabrillo 30. Ames found tight end Will Lawrence open for 15 yards. On a third-and-12 from the 16, Lawrence ran into the end zone and pulled down a toss from Ames for the score with 7:53 left in the quarter. The point-after try failed after a misplayed center snap.

Wick threw a 13-yard scoring strike to Kyle Sinnott for the tying touchdown with 1:21 left in the quarter. A low center snap on the PAT try left the game 6-6.

Cabrillo built momentum five minutes into the second quarter when a 30-yard ramble off a fake punt put the visitors in business at the Ram 24.

Three consecutive rushes by tailback Justin Reinman moved Cabrillo to the five. Reinman’s third-and-goal gamble at the left flank was met with a hard tackle by Willie Gamboa that resulted in a loose football on the turf.

“I was running an outside blitz when I saw the running back muff it,” said linebacker Arthur. “I saw the ball on the ground as he was tackled. I picked it up and took off. As I ran, I saw one of my guys behind me and I knew I could score.”

The 97-yard return gave Gavilan a 12-6 edge with 7:50 left in the half. After a scoreless third quarter, Cabrillo bolted ahead 13-12 with 10:28 left on a Reinman one-yard run. The touchdown was set up when a partially blocked Gavilan punt gave Cabrillo the ball on the Ram 20 with 11:39 left. Reinman went 17 yards on first down before bulling over for the six points.

“The offense coming back and scoring after Cabrillo had scored was huge,” said Lango of the Rams’ final scoring strike.

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