San Benito High senior quarterback Tyler Pacheco isn’t used to running long distances during a game.
That doesn’t mean he’s not capable of taking off when he has to. And what he did Friday night against Wilcox was nothing short of spectacular, especially late in the game when the Haybalers needed a first down.
But his biggest play of the game was on a read option that he decided to keep, breaking free from one tackle and running down the sideline for a 54-yard touchdown, which was the longest rushing attempt of his career.
Pacheco said he didn’t realize how fast he could run, especially when he’s being chased down by a defensive player.
“I thought I was kind of slow before this year,” he said. “Shoot, I guess I’m fast now. I don’t even know, that was pretty cool.”
Pacheco was more than cool, calm and collected as he used his legs and his arm to help lift the Balers past the Chargers for a 22-18 win in non-league action at Andy Hardin Stadium.
After the game, Pacheco yelled out, “Come on, what they talking about? [We’re ranked] 22… 22 in CCS. They’re sixth.”
Wilcox was ranked No. 6 in the MaxPreps Central Coast Section rankings going into Friday night’s game. San Benito was ranked No. 22.
Pacheco said he feels like they don’t get any respect from teams in the San Jose area because their school is located in Hollister with “just a bunch of farm boys,” as he put it.
With the win, he’s hoping that respect will come real soon.
Pacheco finished with 104 rushing yards on eight carries in the second half, including the touchdown. He also failed to complete a pass on five attempts including a turnover.
Pacheco scrambled to his right, looking for an open receiver, when Wilcox junior linebacker Andrew Palacios stepped in front of his pass attempt for the interception at the start of the fourth quarter.
San Benito coach Bryan Smith said his thought process was to not rag on him hard because at that point of the game he’d already done so many positive things to lead up to the turnover.
“Huge heart, [Pacheco] made plays on the run, played with a ton of grit and he feeds off the fans,” he said. “He feeds off the energy and I could not have asked for a better quarterback tonight, he played his heart out.”
Prior to the game, Smith told the team that they needed to play all 48 minutes to have a chance to come out victorious. He said this week’s practices were brutal and intense but the hard work paid off in the end.
“They played their hearts out, they played really hard,” he said.
Pacheco credits the offensive linemen for creating a nice pocket and great blocks the entire game, making lanes for him to run through and picking up key first downs at the end of the game.
“Best football game I’ve ever been a part of,” he said.
However, last week was a different story for Pacheco and his teammates as they experienced the most bizarre ending to a game in recent history.
The Balers had a 10-0 lead against Santa Teresa High at the half when school officials notified the San Benito coaching staff that the game was called off due to poor air quality in San Jose.
Pacheco said it left a bitter taste in their mouths because he thought they were going to come back out and correct all the mistakes they made in that first half of play.
“I think that just led us into this week,” he said. “Our guys stepped it up. It was just first-game stuff in that Santa Teresa game… And in this game we really tightened it up, it was like a playoff atmosphere.”
Pacheco knew the Chargers were going to be a tough challenge for them coming in. He said the focus all week in practice was to plan for the veer offensive scheme.
“If we can stop them, hold them, we thought that our offense could handle the job,” Pacheco said. “Our defense played their hearts out, great performance by the defense.”
The Balers took an early lead, 7-0, after Pacheco found senior receiver Mateo Reyes for a 50-yard touchdown.The Chargers responded by scoring 12 unanswered points. They threatened to add more on their ensuing possession as they marched down the field into the red zone.
But the Balers put a halt to the drive after a pass attempt by Armand Johnson was intercepted in the end zone. San Benito capitalized off the turnover after Pacheco threw for his second touchdown pass of the evening with a 40-yard strike to Victor Villafuerte, giving San Benito back the lead, 15-12, with 6:02 remaining in the first half.
The Balers extended their lead, 22-12, in the third quarter after Pacheco sprinted 54 yards for a touchdown.
The Chargers almost cut the deficit early in the final stanza but a long touchdown pass play was negated after an ineligible man downfield penalty was called by the officials.
They continued to fight and made things interesting after Kemauri Green sprinted for a 56-yard touchdown that made it 22-18 with 4:25 left in the game.
Green finished with 60 yards on seven carries and a touchdown in the second half. Palacios had 12 yards on five carries in the second half.
Wilcox got the ball back one more time with a chance to take the lead, but the Balers’ defense was there to make several key stops, especially on fourth and short situations.
Smith said they looked at Friday’s game as a playoff contest. He added that they should be feeling pretty good with a 2-0 record as the Balers enter Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan Division play.
“Now it doesn’t mean you’re not going to prepare, it doesn’t mean you’re going to take some days off,” he said. “We’re gonna work and we work hard.”
San Benito is scheduled to play at Christopher High on Sept. 10 at 7:30pm.