Returning to the site of one of its worst losses of 2008 for the
first time, the Balers couldn’t match the size of Oak Grove’s
linemen, couldn’t match the speed of its running backs, and
couldn’t keep pace with an Eagle offense that posted 27 points in
the first half en route to a 34-13 victory.
Junior linebacker Ryan Di Salvo agreed — it was a humbling experience.
One week after delivering a 55-0 road thrashing to Andrew Hill, the San Benito Haybalers found themselves on the other end of the scoring spectrum Friday night in San Jose.
Returning to the site of one of its worst losses of 2008 for the first time, the Balers couldn’t match the size of Oak Grove’s linemen, couldn’t match the speed of its running backs, and couldn’t keep pace with an Eagle offense that posted 27 points in the first half en route to a 34-13 victory.
“They came out here and flat-out took it to us in the first half,” said San Benito head coach Chris Cameron, whose Balers fell behind 14-0 after the first quarter and 27-0 by halftime. “They ran past us and we couldn’t tackle them.”
Racking up 393 yards of total offense — despite 10 penalties equaling 82 yards — Oak Grove scored four times on its first five possessions of the game, and didn’t have a punt attempt until early in the fourth quarter.
“I can’t really explain it,” Di Salvo said afterward. “We’re down and we’re just trying to get everybody up.
“We have to do a lot better next week and everyone knows it.”
While last week’s more-than comfortable win over Hill may have instilled some early season confidence in San Benito, the game itself did very little to prepare the Balers for the remainder of the season, Cameron said.
Meanwhile, Oak Grove was coming off a 24-0 loss to St. Francis, a West Catholic Athletic League power that advanced to the Central Coast Section Open Division championship last season.
“They played a WCAL team and we didn’t get a real good look,” Cameron said. “I don’t know if it would have made that much of a difference in terms of the score (tonight), but it sure would have helped us a lot more.
“Tonight’s game will help us for next week, especially since we had a better second half.”
San Benito trailed 34-0 at one point midway through the third quarter when it tacked on 13 points to end the shutout, points that were pocketed against a lineup that featured many of Oak Grove’s starters, many of whom play on both sides of the football.
The Balers finished with 271 yards of total offense.
“It was a bad night,” Cameron added, “but we had some positives happen in the second half, and against a lot of their starters.”
Senior running back Cody Hendricks found paydirt first for the Balers when he bulldozed up the middle for a 4-yard touchdown in the third quarter, a six-point score that ended a 12-play, 70-yard drive for San Benito that took five minutes and 32 seconds off the clock.
The Baler defense, like it did one week ago at Hill, then helped set up the offense midway through the fourth quarter when Zach Nitzel picked off a Ray Rivera pass, ending Oak Grove’s drive and supplying San Benito with the ball at its own 9-yard line.
“We got better in the second half,” Cameron said. “We came out and played hard.”
With backup quarterback Michael Bocksnick in the game, San Benito then took to the ground with an 11-play, 91-yard drive, culminating in a 12-yard touchdown run from Bocksnick on a keeper option around the right side — his second touchdown in as many games.
“He did a great job,” Hendricks said of the sophomore Bocksnick, who finished with five carries for 22 yards.
Starting quarterback Tyler Decker, meanwhile, threw for 29 yards and ran for 22 more.
Of the 13 points scored, Hendricks added, “It gives us something to keep our heads up about. Most of that second half was our second-string players.”
If only the first half played out with as much promise.
“They ran a 4-4 defense, which was different than what we normally see,” added Hendricks, who finished with a game-high 122 yards on 17 carries. “The two interior tackles were big and hard to move, and their outside backers were lightning quick.”
Anchored by meaty lineman Graham Springs and Leo Navarro, and aided by speedy skill position players like Kaelum Harvey, Cleveland Wallace and Jacarri Carr, Oak Grove flexed its athletic might on the offensive side of the ball, too.
In fact, it took the Eagles all of three plays and 61 seconds to march 50 yards on its opening drive, which ended with a 40-yard touchdown run by Harvey.
The junior tailback added a 29-yard touchdown run in the second quarter as well, which ended a three-play, 60-yard drive for the Eagles that ate up a total of 87 seconds.
Harvey finished with 117 yards on 11 carries.
Jacarri Carr, meanwhile, tacked on an 18-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to put the Eagles ahead 27-0. The younger brother of Omari Carr, who sprinted for 177 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 16 carries during a 43-0 drubbing of the Balers in 2008, Jacarri Carr carried the ball for 95 yards on 18 attempts Friday night.
“We just had a lot of missed assignments,” Di Salvo said. “I think when we got our heads screwed on, I think everything went better. But closing holes, missed assignments and wrapping up (tackles). We really need to wrap up, all of us, including myself.”
The heavy ground attack set up Oak Grove’s limited passing game to a “T.” Although Eagles quarterback Ray Rivera threw one interception on just five attempts, he finished with four completions for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
The junior signal-caller found Deubam Awuzie on a 36-yard fly route down the left sideline in the first quarter, then connected with Dion Johns over the middle on a 5-yard out route midway through the third.
“We’re not gonna blow everyone out,” Di Salvo said after the game. “Every game is going to get tougher as the season goes on.”
At least for San Benito’s non-conference slate, that could very well be true. The Balers (1-1) will return to Hollister next Friday for their home opener against Wilcox, and will then host Palo Alto the following week.
“We expect them to be just as good,” Hendricks said of Wilcox. “But we have to play harder and know our assignments.”
While Oak Grove won the matchup two years ago by a 43-0 margin in San Jose, the Balers returned the favor last season with a 24-6 victory in Hollister … San Benito tight end Jake Hunter suffered a shin injury at the very end of the first quarter Friday night and had to be carried off the field by trainers. Hunter’s status was unknown after the game. The senior was injured for much of last season with a high-ankle injury.
TEAM 1 2 3 4 F
SB 0 0 7 6 13
OG 14 13 7 0 34
RUSH (10:49) — OG, Kaelum Harvey, 40-yard touchdown, PAT (Jose Meneses) is good; 7-0, OG.
PASS (3:57) — OG, Ray Rivera to Deubam Awuzie, 36-yard touchdown, PAT (Jose Meneses) is good; 14-0, OG.
RUSH (9:11) — OG, Kaelum Harvey, 29-yard touchdown, PAT (Jose Meneses) is no good; 20-0, OG.
RUSH (1:30) — OG, Jacarri Carr, 18-yard touchdown, PAT (Jose Meneses) is good; 27-0, OG.
PASS (5:52) — OG, Ray Rivera to Dion Johns, 3-yard touchdown, PAT (Jose Meneses) is good; 34-0, OG.
RUSH (:14) — SB, Cody Hendricks, 4-yard touchdown, PAT (Tino Granados) is good; 34-7, OG.
RUSH (2:34) — SB, Michael Bocksnick, 12-yard touchdown, PAT (Tino Granados) is blocked; 34-13, OG.
SAN BENITO STATISTICS
Passing: Tyler Decker — 3 of 9, 29 yards, 1 interception; James Sanchez — 0 of 1, 1 interception. Rushing: Tyler Decker — 13 attempts, 22 yards; James Sanchez — 4 attempts, 25 yards; Cody Hendricks — 17 attempts, 122 yards, 1 touchdown; James Flook — 1 attempt, 14 yards; Anthony Cervantes — 2 attempts, 9 yards; Jacob De Leon — 4 attempts, 19 yards; Justin Raine — 1 attempt, 9 yards; Michael Bocksnick — 5 attempts, 22 yards, 1 touchdown. Receiving: James Flook — 1 reception, 13 yards; Brandon Rodriguez — 1 reception, 10 yards; Anthony Cervantes — 1 reception, 6 yards.
OAK GROVE STATISTICS
Passing: Ray Rivera — 4 of 5, 116 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception. Rushing: Ray Rivera — 2 attempts, -2 yards; Kaelum Harvey — 11 attempts, 117 yards, 2 touchdowns; Cleveland Wallace — 4 attempts, 25 yards; Jacarri Carr — 18 attempts, 95 yards, 1 touchdown; Dion Johns — 1 attempt, 1 yard; Tyrone Robinson — 1 attempt, 1 yard; Deubam Awuzie — 2 attempts, 40 yards. Receiving: Cleveland Wallace — 2 receptions, 77 yards; Deubam Awuzie — 1 reception, 36 yards, 1 touchdown; Dion Johns — 1 reception, 3 yards, 1 touchdown.
San Benito — 2
Oak Grove — 2
San Benito — 0
Oak Grove — 5 (Leo Navarro, Graham Springs, Nick Mandracchia, Scotty Lawyer 2) for -27 yards.
San Benito — 1 for -10 yards.
Oak Grove — 10 for -82 yards.
San Benito — 271 yards
Oak Grove — 393 yards
The San Benito junior varsity football team fell behind in the first half against Oak Grove and was unable to make up the difference in the third and fourth quarters as the host Eagles earned 35-21 victory in San Jose Friday night.
“We played athletes this week,” said San Benito head coach Matt Andrade, whose team won 47-0 last week against Andrew Hill. “They were good and well coached.”
The Balers are now 1-1 on the early season.
Oak Grove went up early in the first quarter after it returned the opening kickoff to the end zone. But the Balers responded on their first possession when they drove 75 yards and ate up approximately eight minutes of clock, culminating in a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Angel Pasillas.
The Eagles delivered another quick strike on their very next possession, though. Although it didn’t return the kickoff this time, Oak Grove did deliver on a 45-yard touchdown pass — the play coming on the team’s very first play from scrimmage.
The Eagles added a third score with about seven seconds remaining in the first half to take a 21-7 lead to the break.
“Two mistakes early in the game put us in a hole,” Andrade said. “But I’m proud of the kids with the way they fought back. They never quit.”
Although the Eagles went up 28-7 at one point in the third quarter, San Benito cut into Oak Grove’s lead in the fourth when a 60-yard drive ended with another 1-yard touchdown from Pasillas.
Both teams traded touchdowns later in the final stanza. San Benito running back Cody Cameron delivered the team’s final score late in the fourth quarter when he bounced out to the right sideline and sprinted 40 yards to the end zone.
With two games under its belt, San Benito will return to Hollister next Friday for its home opener at Andy Hardin Stadium. The Balers will square off against visiting Wilcox at 5 p.m.
The San Benito freshmen football team did not play on Friday night, but will square off against San Lorenzo Valley on Saturday morning in Felton.
Kickoff is 9 a.m.