Sloppy Win

‘Balers overcome first-half turnovers behind raging defense to
beat SLV 30-10
Hollister – It certainly wasn’t pretty. But the San Benito football team played through its mistakes to hammer San Lorenzo Valley 30-10 Friday night at Andy Hardin Field.

The ‘Balers fumbled on each of their first four possessions, losing three of them, but still managed to improve to 2-0 on the year with a rout in their home opener.

“It was butt ugly,” San Benito head coach Chris Cameron said. “Not pretty at all. We’ve got to play better than that offensively.”

Despite fumbling four times within the Cougars’ 35-yard line in the first half, the ‘Balers still managed to take a 7-3 lead into the locker room. And that minor miracle was thanks almost entirely to a ferocious San Benito defense, which snagged two interceptions, recorded a third-down sack and recovered a fumble – all in the opening half.

“We had the same mentality no matter what,” said senior nose tackle Brett Pirtle, who notched a defensive trifecta with a fumble recovery, a sack and an interception. “We’ve got to go out and stop ’em, can’t let ’em score.”

After a few strong-worded thoughts from their coaches, the ‘Balers came out of halftime and exploded up the field on Dru Blake’s kickoff return to SLV’s 21-yard line. One play later, San Benito fumbled again, but this time Lenny Silva found himself in the right place at the right time. The center picked up the ball and sprinted for the end zone, racing across the goal line for a 20-yard touchdown, which spurred the ‘Balers to a 14-3 lead.

“I saw the ball flop down and I just thought, ‘It’s mine,'” Silva said. “Total adrenaline rush right then and there. So amazing. For a center to score a touchdown? Man, that’s good stuff.”

Asked the turning point in the game, Cameron pointed to that play. “Lenny’s scoop and score – I think that was the turning point right there,” the ‘Balers’ coach said, “because from then, we were on a roll.”

San Lorenzo Valley (0-2), which had played tight defense throughout the first half, again fell victim to a costly turnover when ‘Balers cornerback Zach Canez stepped in front of Cougars quarterback Ian McGinnis’ pass and returned it 32 yards to the SLV 8-yard line. Three plays later, San Benito halfback Abel Jacquez burst through for a 1-yard touchdown run, his second score of the game, to put his team up 20-3 just 4 minutes into the second half.

From there, the ‘Balers cruised, using a 32-yard Ronnie Fhurong-to-Carlos Ramos touchdown pass and a 22-yard field goal by Blake, as well as two more interceptions on the defensive side of the ball, to complete their second win.

“Second game of the season, we’re real pleased,” said San Benito defensive coordinator Tod Thatcher, who was particularly impressed with his unit’s savvy. “(SLV) brings so many tricks and they’re so unpredictable, but our guys were on it.”

After turnovers on its first two possessions, the ‘Balers fumbles yet again on their third offensive series, but recovered it to eventually take a 7-0 lead following Jacquez’s 2-yard touchdown. San Benito coughed up two more balls, including one at the Cougars’ 4-yard line with the second quarter winding down, but nonetheless emerged unscathed.

“We were trying to give it away, we were trying to give it away, we were trying to give it away, but they wouldn’t take it,” Cameron said.

Jacquez, who finished with 11 carries for 40 yards and two touchdowns, said once the ‘Baler backs held onto the ball, San Benito cruised to the win.

“(The ball) was just slipping,” he said. “Our plays were working. Our line stepped it up big time. They were opening holes for us and we were getting through good. Once (the Cougars) were making contact with us, the ball was coming out. … It just seemed like they were putting their heads there, right where the ball was.”

‘Baler fullback Tim Lango ran for a game-high 82 yards on 12 carries and Fhurong finished an efficient 5-of-9 passing for 75 yards and a touchdown.

Ricky Correa, Johnny Sanchez and Blake recorded interceptions and linebacker Nate Mendoza posted a first-half sack for a 9-yard loss.

“Defensively, we were hell on wheels,” Cameron said. “(The margin of victory) should’ve been a lot larger than that.”

San Benito looks to improve to 3-0 when it hosts Wilcox on Sep. 15 at 7:30pm.

JV NOTE : The San Benito JV football team also improved to 2-0 on the year with its 28-6 victory over San Lorenzo Valley Friday night in Hollister.

The host ‘Balers took a 14-0 lead into halftime behind two rushing touchdowns by quarterback Ryan Shorey. Running back Sebastian Cathirell added a 5-yard scoring run in the third quarter, and then halfback

Derell Aton blazed down the field for a 65-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

“It feels great,” ‘Balers coach Luis Espinoza said of his team’s strong start to the year. “The kids, they work hard. When it comes down to it, our team has heart.

“One of their offseason goals was 10-0. They set their standards high.”

PREP FOOTBALL ROUNDUP

Woodside 14, Gilroy 10

Woodside – Big plays hurt Gilroy. Red-zone struggles doomed the Mustangs.

The Wildcats used two long Matt Pelasasa-to-Anthony Mendoza passes to kickstart their offense and then held their collective breath Friday as Gilroy managed just three points on two ventures into the red zone as host Woodside won its opener 14-10.

It appeared Gilroy (1-1) would be good enough to win another close game, much like its 28-27 opening-game win over Burlingame. GHS put together an impressive 92-yard fourth-quarter drive. Starting at their own 6, Paul Gonzales immediately got the Mustangs out of bad field position with a 32-yard gallop.

The other big play in the drive was a 31-yard Marc Vegas keeper, and GHS had a first-and-goal at the 5 with four minutes left. Two rushes gained three yards and Vegas’ fumble was recovered by Selope Kaufusi at the Woodside 7 with 3:37 left in the game.

Saratoga 22, Live Oak 21

Saratoga – The Falcons scored all 22 of their points in the fourth quarter to turn a 14-0 deficit into their second straight win.

Saratoga (2-0) didn’t reach the end zone until one minute into the fourth quarter when quarterback Kevin Sieczkarek scored on a 15-yard option keeper.

Live Oak (0-1) responded on its next drive when senior running back Kevin Abbott (22 carries, 163 yards) broke free for a 50-yard touchdown run with 8:10 left in the game.

But Sieczkarek connected with senior wide receiver Alex Lageman for a 14-yard touchdown pass with 2:52 left. Danny Miroyan recovered the onside kick for the Falcons and Sieczkarek drove Saratoga back down the field and hit Keon Ghafouri for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 43.2 seconds left.

The Falcons elected to go for the two-point conversion and Sieczkarek scored on an option keeper to produce the game-winning points.

Sobrato 7, Cupertino 7

Morgan Hill – The Bulldogs turned a late fumble recovery into their lone score of the game to salvage a tie in their season-opener.

Senior nose guard Genaro Redmond recovered the fumble at the Cupertino 17-yard line with 5:58 left in the game and on the next play sophomore quarterback Alex Meldrum hooked up with tight end Brandon Duggan for the touchdown.

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