Crushing Defeat

Steven Quistian holds his head in the final minutes of Gilroy’s

The Prune Bowl trophy will remain in Hollister for another
After scoring the game’s first 14 points and holiding on to a
14-13 halftime lead, Gilroy allowed San Benito to score 23
unanswered points in the second half en route to a 50-20 Prune Bowl
victory, the ‘Balers fourth in a row.
The Prune Bowl trophy will remain in Hollister for another year.

After scoring the game’s first 14 points and holiding on to a 14-13 halftime lead, Gilroy allowed San Benito to score 23 unanswered points in the second half en route to a 50-20 Prune Bowl victory, the ‘Balers fourth in a row.

For Gilroy (3-3, 0-1), the first half’s elation turned to angry frustration as the ‘Balers came rumbling back while the Mustangs struggled through a penalty-laden second half.

“I don’t know, I can’t explain it,” said a dejected Taylor Micali, senior linebacker for Gilroy. “The game I was looking forward to for two years, since my sophomore year, and we just kind of blew it.”

After the game, Gilroy head coach Darren Yafai was at a loss to explain his team’s three-game skid.

“We’ve got to find a way to stop the bleeding,” he said. “We didn’t get it done. We had two weeks to prepare and we thought we had a good game plan. We had a good half of football but then we had a bunch of breakdowns.”

In the opening quarter, it looked like San Benito (3-3, 1-0) would be the team having a rough night. During the first drive, Justin Sweeney picked up 34 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown run at the 8:15 mark and kicker Neil Martin converted the PAT to make it 7-0.

On the ensuing San Benito drive, it was Gilroy’s defense that made the big play.

On the ‘Balers third play, the ball popped out on a handoff into the hands of Mustang linebacker Ryan Dickerson, who returned the ball to the end zone 42 yards. Martin hit the extra point and Gilroy had dropped 14 points on the board and the game was still less than halfway through the first quarter.

San Benito quickly bounced back, however, scoring just over a minute later on running back Jeff Weltz’s 10-yard run. Dru Blake converted the PAT and it was 14-7 Gilroy going into the second quarter.

In the second quarter, San Benito’s Tim Lango had a 4-yard TD run, but Blake missed the extra point and Gilroy held the 14-13 edge. Gilroy set up for a field goal with seconds until the half, but a bad snap foiled the play.

After the break, San Benito built momentum while the Mustangs began to fall apart.

The ‘Balers took their first lead of the night on Blake’s 24-yard field goal at the 7:31 mark in the third quarter.

Then San Benito lowered two devastating blows on Gilroy.

With 4:56 left in the third quarter, San Benito quarterback Karson Klauer (7-for-12, 138 yards, 1 TD) threw a screen pass to Ronnie Fhurong, who tossed a long pass to Art Esparza for a 43-yard touchdown. Blake’s PAT made it 23-14. Gilroy’s David Alejo received the kickoff that followed, but fumbled. San Benito’s Nate Mendoza recovered the ball and the ‘Balers took over at the Gilroy 17. Lango eventually scored his second touchdown on a 1-yard run. The two Haybaler TD’s in just over two minutes set Gilroy back 29-14.

By the time the fourth quarter started, all the wind was already out of Gilroy’s sails.

San Benito scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Gilroy’s only bright spot during the period was Sweeney’s 28-yard catch and run from Nick Tovar for his second touchdown. The senior craftily avoided two tackles before sneaking into the end zone to make it 36-20. The Mustangs went for two, but after catching Tovar’s pass to the right sideline, Sweeney was stopped short of the goal line.

“They played better than us,” said Sweeney, who had to battle for every yard and earned 78 on 20 carries. “”We’ve got to play a lot harder. We don’t practice that hard.”

Sweeney, who said he was fully recovered from a pulled quad sustained two weeks ago against Oakland Tech, also had three receptions for 66 yards. Tovar was 6-of-11 for 71 yards and one touchdown. He also ran 38 yards on four carries.

Gilroy faces another tough opponent next week, league powerhouse Palma. A week after losing the Prune Bowl last year, the Mustangs returned to beat Palma on its own field for the first time ever.

“Maybe we can rebound,” Yafai said. “Who knows.”

What tactical measures Gilroy will have to use against the Chieftains will be put in place this week in practice. But as far as intangibles go, Micali has a guess as to what area Gilroy needs to improve.

“It’s heart, it’s our heart,” Micali said. “We have the best athletes on this team. We just need to pick it up.”

HIT OF THE GAME – Or should we say hits? A series of helmet-crashing tackles took place on the game opening kickoff return. Red and blue helmets flew at each other, setting the amped tone for the big rivalry.

PLAYER OF THE GAME – Ryan Dickerson, Sr linebacker – Dickerson recovered a fumble for a 42-yard touchdown in the first quarter to put Gilroy ahead 14-0. The senior also recorded one sack and a few near sacks on San Benito quarterback Karson Klauer.

STAT OF THE GAME – It was bad enough that San Benito had two consecutive scores in the third quarter, on a field goal to take the lead followed by trick play. But Gilroy really had their momentum stopped when it fumbled the following kickoff return and the ‘Balers recovered the ball at the Gilroy 17. San Benito turned it into a quick scoring drive and went up 29-14.

San Benito 50, Gilroy 20

Gilroy 14 0 0 6 -20

S. Benito 7 6 16 21 -50

GIL (3-3, 0-1), SB (3-3, 1-0)

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter

GIL – 8:15, Sweeney 18-yard run (Martin kick), GIL 7-0

GIL – 6:47, Dickerson 42-yard fumble recovery (Martin kick), GIL 14-0

SB – 5:02, Weltz 10-yard run (Blake kick), GIL 14-7

2nd Quarter

SB – 9:08, Lango 4-yard run (Kick failed), GIL 14-13

3rd Quarter

SB – 7:31, Blake 24-yard FG, SB 16-14

SB – 4:56, Esparza 42-yard pass from Fhurong, SB 23-14

SB – 2:34, Lango 2-yard run (Kick failed), SB 29-14

4th Quarter

SB – 10:09, Esparza 13-yard pass from Klauer (Blake kick), SB 36-14

GIL – 7:52, Sweeney 28-yard pass from Tovar (Tovar pass to Sweeney failed), SB 36-20

SB – 6:52, Klauer 10-yard run (Blake kick), SB 43-20

SB – :52, Grimaldo 7-yard run (Blake kick), SB 50-20

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