Clock-killing Trojans down ‘Balers

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'Baler quarterback Kyle Vallejo finds room to run around the corner Friday night.

Alisal’s first half is enough, as host Trojans pull out 14-6
victory over San Benito
SALINAS

It’s suddenly an uphill climb for the San Benito Haybalers.

After opening the season with a 2-1 record, with wins over Lincoln and Wilcox, the ‘Balers have lost two straight games with their latest defeat coming by a 14-6 margin to the Alisal Trojans Friday night in the Tri-County Athletic League opener in Salinas.

The loss not only puts San Benito at 2-3 overall, 0-1 in the TCAL, but puts an added importance on each of the five remaining games on the ‘Balers schedule.

Needing a victory Friday to build momentum toward the more difficult part of their slate, San Benito fell behind 14-0 at halftime and head coach Chris Cameron said his team was simply out-played by Alisal at the start.

“We’re just not coming out with that sense of urgency. That’s a problem,” Cameron said. “We’re not scoring … and we’re not gonna win a whole lot of games when the defense is on the field that long.”

The ‘Balers have scored 46 points through five games this season, and their offensive woes continued in Salinas Friday. Although they out-gained the Trojans 263-200 in total offensive yards, San Benito committed four turnovers, three in the red zone, and were forced to battle the clock late in the game.

“Things we’ve been preaching on and working on during the week, we just didn’t execute,” Cameron said. “We got behind and they were able to chew up the clock.”

Alisal did their best to wear out the ‘Baler defense as much as possible, especially in the first half, when the Trojans ran 33 offensive plays to San Benito’s 17 through the first two quarters.

And their two biggest time-killing drives each finished in the end zone.

In the first quarter, the Trojans ate up five minutes, nine seconds off the clock on a 10-play, 66-yard drive that resulted in a 20-yard touchdown run from back Abel Mendez. The 5-foot-7, 140-pound senior discovered the end zone when he bounced out of a pile at the line of scrimmage and sprinted toward daylight up the right sideline.

After San Benito fumbled the hand-off on the Alisal 17-yard line on their ensuing possession, the Trojans capitalized with a 20-play drive that took 10 minutes, 17 seconds off the clock – nearly the entire second quarter.

“They chewed the clock to shreds,” Cameron said.

Starting from their own 17, Alisal’s epic drive was almost a three-and-out, but San Benito was called for encroachment on fourth-and-two to extend the series. Seventeen plays later, and Trojan quarterback Alfredo Aportela rolled right and found Aaron Suarez-Lopez open in the corner for a five-yard score with just 29 seconds left in the half.

“We didn’t come out hitting. They just ran all over us,” linebacker Michael Murphy said. “We didn’t do anything to stop them, so they just ran all over us and put 14 points up on the board.”

After sticking with the run for much of the first half, the ‘Balers opened up their passing attack in the second in order to make up the two-score difference. Quarterback Kyle Vallejo threw for 138 yards on 12 of 28 passing and hooked up with receiver Evan McFadden on nine balls for 116 yards.

Wanting to be a grind-it-out team, though, the ‘Balers ran the ball 22 times for 125 yards.

“That’s the exact opposite of what I want to do,” Cameron said. “We had a sense of urgency trying to come back. We were throwing the ball.”

San Benito’s ‘D’ supplied strong field position when Devin Quintana picked off Alfredo’s pass on just the third play of the second half. Despite starting from Alisal’s 25, though, the ‘Balers could not move the ball and failed on a fourth-down conversion attempt.

On the night, San Benito was 0-for-4 on fourth down.

After both teams went scoreless in the third quarter, San Benito found paydirt midway into the final stanza. Beginning from their own 29, the ‘Balers went 71 yards on 10 plays to cut into Alisal’s lead late in the game.

Connecting with McFadden on four different plays on the drive, Vallejo found his No. 1 option for a six-yard touchdown pass with 7:44 remaining.

Things began to turn San Benito’s way from there when Eric De Leon’s ensuing kickoff backed Alisal up to their 6-yard line. Later, on a third-and-four play, the linebacker Murphy appeared to strip running back Armando Enriquez of the ball at the Trojan 20.

“They said the offense (recovered) the ball first,” Murphy said. “I could have sworn we had it, but you can’t fight the ref.”

After Alisal punted, San Benito marched back inside the Trojan 20, but another fumble ended their chance of a comeback. The ‘Balers had one last shot from their own 45-yard line with 1:51 left, but didn’t get a first down to extend the drive.

San Benito will return to Andy Hardin Stadium next Friday to host Everett Alvarez at 7:30 p.m.

TEAM 1 2 3 4 F

SB 0 0 0 6 6

AL 7 7 0 0 14

PASSING

Kyle Vallejo, SB – 12 of 28, 138 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT

Alfredo Aportela, AL – 6 of 8, 62 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

RUSHING

Kyle Vallejo, SB – 4 rushes, 46 yards

Nick Acosta, SB – 3 rushes, 4 yards

Christian Maravilla, SB – 3 rushes, 9 yards

Sebastian Cathirell, SB – 7 rushes, 38 yards

Jeff Bernaldez, SB – 5 rushes, 28 yards

Abel Mendez, AL – 17 rushes, 58 yards, 1 TD

Osiel Lopez, AL – 4 rushes, 12 yards

Armando Enriquez, AL – 13 rushes, 26 yards

Travis Mancera, AL – 1 rush, 1 yard

Milton Grant, AL – 8 rushes, 32 yards

Alfredo Aportela, AL – 5 rushes, 9 yards

RECEIVING

Nick Acosta, SB – 2 catches, 12 yards

Jacob Hunter, SB – 1 catch, 10 yards

Evan McFadden, SB – 9 catches, 116 yards, 1 TD

Alejandro Espinoza, AL – 1 catch, 16 yards

Aaron Suarez-Lopez, AL – 2 catches, 14 yards, 1 TD

Milton Grant, AL – 3 catches, 32 yards

TOTAL OFFENSE

San Benito – 263 yards (138 pass, 125 rush)

Alisal – 200 yards (62 pass, 138 rush)

JV Note:

The San Benito junior varsity football team lost a hard-fought battle on the road at Alisal Friday night, as the host Trojans pulled out a narrow 27-26 victory to open the Tri-County Athletic League season.

San Benito is now 0-1 in the TCAL, 1-2-2 overall.

Head coach Luis Espinoza was stressing a four-quarter game to his team after the Haybalers fell behind 21-6 after one period of play on Friday.

“The first quarter, we didn’t come out to play,” Espinoza said. “I was happy with the second, third and fourth quarters. They played their hearts out. They did a good job.

“It was a tough loss, but we have to play all four quarters.”

‘Baler Jason Roascio’s 25-yard touchdown run in the first quarter cut into Alisal’s sizeable lead, and Adam Huaracha’s 2-yard rushing touchdown in the third made it 21-12 Trojans.

Later in that same quarter, Roascio found paydirt again on a 10-yard sweep, while San Benito’s defense then made the game interesting when they recorded a safety in the fourth quarter, giving Alisal a narrow 27-20 lead.

After being down by three scores, the ‘Balers brought the game to within one point when Nathan Castro scored on a 10-yard sweep. Going for the two-point conversion, however, San Benito was sacked in the backfield for a five-yard loss, and fell short in the end, 27-26.

San Benito will host Everett Alvarez next Friday at 5 p.m. in Hollister.

Frosh Note:

The San Benito freshman football team shutout host Alisal Friday night 14-0, and opened the Tri-County Athletic League season on a winning note.

San Benito is now 1-0 in the TCAL, 4-1 overall.

“We left a lot of points on the field again,” head coach Herb Bocksnick said, “but ultimately, we did what it took to win and the kids had a good time.”

With Alisal held scoreless, San Benito got all they needed when quarterback Ricky Munguia hit Tyler Smith on a 25-yard touchdown pass. For added insurance, though, Munguia connected with Lucas Haro on a 50-yard scoring pass to put the ‘Balers up 14-0.

San Benito will host Everett Alvarez next Thursday at 6 p.m. in Hollister.

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