‘Stangs Stalled

Tim Pierleoni, the Gilroy Mustangs offensive coordinator, let’s

For the second week in a row, the Gilroy High football team came
up on the losing end.
Gilroy – For the second week in a row, the Gilroy High football team came up on the losing end.

But the Mustangs’ 26-17 loss to Oakland Tech Friday at Garcia-Elder Sports Complex didn’t look anything like the one last week against San Lorenzo Valley.

There was no fiery comeback, and for most of the game, no Justin Sweeney.

The senior tailback took a helmet to the hip on a punt return late in the first quarter and never returned, finishing the game with just six yards on five carries.

Though his backups did a fine job of filling in after he got hurt – tailback Jojo Gutierrez ran for 104 yards on 12 carries and fullback Stefon McCrimon picked up 60 yard on seven carries with a touchdown – the team as a whole collapsed in the second half after taking a 10-6 lead midway through the third quarter.

But after that it was mostly all Oakland Tech, which scored two unanswered touchdowns to take a 20-10 lead with 6:32 to go.

“It’s been a long time since I can remember a loss that was so disheartening,” said head coach Darren Yafai after the game. “I’m a at a loss to explain how we dismantled ourselves tonight.”

Gilroy (3-2) scored with 1:44 left in the game to bring them within three of the Bulldogs, 20-17. Senior quarterback Chris Velasco (3-for-9, 79 yards, TD) who replaced starter Nick Tovar (2-for-10, 37 yards) late in the final quarter, hit running back Paul Gonzales for a 56-yard pass play and kicker Neil Martin converted the PAT. But it was too little, too late to inspire a Mustang rally.

Adding insult to injury, Oakland Tech running back Roialle Edwards ran 46 yards into the end zone on the final play of the game as time ran out, sealing the 26-17 final score.

“We’re hurting because every player and coach works way too hard to come out and do this,” Yafai said.

Down the stretch, the Mustangs were unable to get downfield by throwing the ball when it needed to.

“Our passing game is not the focus of our offense, but we’ve been throwing the ball efficiently,” Yafai said. “Today, we didn’t pass protect and we dropped a million passes.”

Oakland Tech (3-1) broke through first after a quarter and a half that was played mostly in the middle of the field. Oakland Tech running back Seth Smith, who was responsible for most of the Bulldogs’ running game, scored from 11 yards out. The 2-point conversion attempt failed and Tech took a 6-0 lead that wouldn’t last for long.

On the ensuing Gilroy drive, Stefon McCrimon broke through from 52 yards out to score on the first play and his first carry of the game. Kicker Neil Martin’s point-after attempt was good and Gilroy went up 7-6.

With Sweeney out of the game, McCrimon said he felt more like he had to take responsibility on offense.

“I tried to take it upon myself to be the leader on offense and get us that touchdown,” he said.

Martin hit a 33-yard field goal with 2:06 left in he third quarter to stretch Gilroy’s lead to 10-6.

But Gilroy let Oakland Tech back in after that. In the fourth quarter, Bulldog quarterback, Anthony McCrady, (10-for-20, 138 yards, 2TD’s) connected with wide receiver Vernard Scott (9 catches, 143 yards, 2TD’s) twice for 30-yard touchdown passes, once with 11:14 left and again with 6:32 to go in the game. The touchdowns gave Oakland the 20-10 edge.

Gilroy now has to wait two weeks before it gets the chance to avenge Friday’s loss. But when the Mustangs do return to action, it will be for a big game. On Oct. 14, they open TCAL play against rival San Benito in Hollister for the Prune Bowl.

“After a loss like this, (a bye week) can only help. Hopefully, we’ll heal up some and (the time will) allow us to do a little soul-searching,” Yafai said. “No matter what we did on the field, I’m the head coach and it’s my fault. I have to find a way to fix it.”

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