Offensive-minded Rams build up 21-0 halftime lead over
Salinas – That team with the white jerseys Saturday night couldn’t have been the Gavilan Rams.

After all, Gavilan had failed to score more than 14 points in any game all season while struggling offensively, particularly in the passing game. The depleted Rams were missing injured Justin Sweeney and down to just 36 healthy bodies prior to kickoff against Hartnell at Salinas High School’s stadium.

And this team in the white jerseys had rung up a 21-0 halftime advantage and had amassed 195 yards in total offense with all three touchdowns through the air.

It was Gavilan, following offensive coordinator Andy Gonzalez’s game plan to perfection behind the pinpoint passing of Will Kilday. While the Rams struggled down the stretch, they were able to protect their lead and emerge with a 28-20 victory and their first win of the season. In the process, they won the first TJ Owens Football Classic and a perpetual trophy that will be awarded to the winning team.

“We opened up everything in practice and used it in the game,” said Kilday, who matched his junior college high with four touchdown passes. “We had good play calling and were able to execute the plan.”

The first half was the best Gavilan had played all season. The Rams (1-4) marched 80 yards in 10 plays with Kilday connecting to Ellis Krout for a 9-yard scoring toss with 8:20 left in the first quarter.

On Hartnell’s next play from scrimmage, Anthony Vasquez delivered a big hit on Panthers’ quarterback Emmerson Dorris, causing a fumble that was recovered by Jeff Weltz at the Hartnell 30. Five plays and two penalties later, Kilday hit a wide-open Tim Abbott for a 36-yard touchdown pass play.

Suddenly the Rams, who hadn’t scored more than 14 points in any one game this season, led 14-0 and there was still 4:35 remaining in the first quarter.

After a missed Panthers’ field goal, Gavilan made it three touchdowns in three possessions, going 80 yards in 11 plays with Kilday clicking with Brad Cintas on an 8-yard scoring play.

The offense wasn’t nearly as crisp in the second half, and there were some defensive lapses. But there was another big defensive play by Vasquez and another Kilday-to-Krout touchdown connection.

Trailing 21-0 early in the third quarter, Hartnell resorted to trickery with a reverse, the ball going back to Dorris. A receiver was wide open down field but Vasquez hit Dorris as he was ready to pass, and Weltz picked off the errant toss.

“I was coming and I saw the reverse play,” Vasquez said. “I continued to track the quarterback and once he stepped up I was able to hit him.”

The Panthers (1-4) did score on their next possession on a 26-yard option pass from Anthony Mendoza to Marco Rueda.

But the Rams responded when Kilday hit Krout on a fly pattern that went for a 67-yard touchdown.

“Ellis is a great athlete and when he gets open, you’ve got to get him the ball,” Kilday said of Krout, who had three catches for 100 yards. “He’s the fastest person on our team so if you get him the ball he can usually do something with it.”

Hartnell had 201 yards of offense in the fourth quarter and scored two touchdowns. Fifty-five yards came on a last-second Hail Mary! pass.

Injury report: Perkins gained 67 yards rushing and had a 57-yard reception before leaving with an ankle injury. Coach John Lango expects him to be ready Saturday for College of the Sequoias. Sweeney sat out the game with a deep thigh bruise, and is expected to play Saturday.

GAVILAN 14 7 7 0 – 28

HARTNELL 0 0 7 13 – 20

1st quarter

Gav-Krout 9 pass from Kilday (Cifuentes kick), 8:20

Gav-Abbott 36 pass from Kilday (Cifuentes kick), 4:35

2nd quarter

Gav-Cintas 8 pass from Kilday (Cifuentes kick), 7:52

3rd quarter

Hart-Rueda 26 pass from Mendoza (Estrada kick), 1:43

Gav-Krout 67 pass from Kilday (Cifuentes kick), :38

4th quarter

Hart-Amezcua 44 pass from Dorris (Estrada kick), 9:24

Hart-Dorris 2 run (pass failed), 2:17

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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