Football: Loss means Balers will travel for playoffs

Ely Sernas celebrates a tackle to help the Balers stop Monta Vista Christian in Friday's game.

Another close game, another agonizing loss for the San Benito High football team. The Haybalers suffered a 22-20 home defeat to Monte Vista Christian on Nov. 13, and this one was somewhat costly. Rather than hosting a home game in the opening round of the Central Coast Section Open Division I playoffs, the No. 5 seed Balers (6-4) travel to play at No. 4 Menlo-Atherton (6-4) on Friday at 7 p.m.
Had San Benito won, it would’ve had accumulated more power points than Menlo-Atherton, which finished in a three-way tie for first in the Peninsula Athletic League’s Bay Division. San Benito fell to 1-2 in games decided by seven points or less, with the two defeats coming in the last two games of the regular season.
“It seems like in the close games against good teams we can’t punch it in and get the victory,” said running back Kyle Cameron, who rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. “There’s not a whole lot you can do but get better from here.”
The Balers had a chance to win it at the end, facing a second-and-6 from the 10-yard line. R.J. Clark completed a 6-yard pass to Christian Cabada near the right sideline, but Cabada was tackled at the 4 as time expired. San Benito started the drive on its own 30 with 2 minutes, 2 seconds remaining and no timeouts.
On the third play of the drive, the Balers received a spectacular catch from Daniel Hopkins, who made a diving grab as he was leveled along the left sideline for a 24-yard gain that advanced the ball to the Monte Vista Christian 42-yard line. San Benito eventually advanced the ball to get a first-and-goal from the 10.
Clark was stopped for no gain on the penultimate play of the game. Not having a timeout was the difference in the Balers getting another play off or even sending the field goal unit out to set up a manageable shot at the win.
“I wish we had a couple more seconds,” Cameron said.
For one of the few times all season, San Benito was outgained by a substantial margin. The upstart Mustangs, who finished 9-1 overall and 5-1 for second place in the Monterey Bay League’s Gabilan Division, finished with 367 yards of total offense to the Balers’ 251.
San Benito’s defense, which has been a source of strength for most of the season, allowed an 84-yard touchdown run by D’shawn Hopkins, who finished with 144 yards on 21 carries. Mustangs quarterback Ryan Spohn also had a nice game, completing 21-of-27 passes for 283 yards.
Nye had another strong game for San Benito, rushing for 118 yards on 18 carries, including TD runs of 5 and 4 yards. Clark was 4-of-11 passing for 56 yards. Cameron said the loss stung because it was Senior Night.
“Senior Night is huge—we don’t just play the game for ourselves,” he said. “We do it for our families, our fans, the town, each other. Families support us and our coaches work their butts off to put us in the best possible position to win. We just have to stop making mistakes, which have been killing us the last few weeks.”


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