FOOTBALL: Cougars run past Grizzlies, 48-12

Nic Slater finds a running lane against Pajaro Valley on Friday

Junior Nic Slater gathered 139 yards and two touchdowns,
freshman Rayshon Mills glided to 97 yards and a pair of scores and
sophomore Patrick Valdez darted for 62 yards on the ground and
another touchdown, as the Cougars dispensed visiting Pajaro Valley
48-12 to record their first Monterey Bay League victory as a
program on Homecoming Friday night.
GILROY – Nearly matching its points output for the season in one fell swoop, the Christopher High varsity football team bounced back from last week’s 37-0 loss to Monterey in a big way.

Junior Nic Slater gathered 139 yards and two touchdowns, freshman Rayshon Mills glided to 97 yards and a pair of scores and sophomore Patrick Valdez darted for 62 yards on the ground and another touchdown, as the Cougars dispensed visiting Pajaro Valley 48-12 to record their first Monterey Bay League victory as a program on Homecoming Friday night.

“It seemed to work, so we just stuck with it,” Slater said of the Cougars’ unrelenting rushing attack, which totaled 295 yards in the game. “Our whole line played good. Everyone knew their assignments.”

In four outings this season, the Cougars (2-3 overall, 1-1 MBL) had totaled just 53 points, 40 of which coming in a win against non-league opponent Capuchino. But on Friday night, CHS found success on the ground early and often and rode the backs of a much improved offensive line and its tailback trio to victory.

“We talk about the team that makes the least amount of mistakes will win the game,” head coach Tim Pierleoni said. “Last week against Monterey we made those mistakes and we paid for it.”

The Cougars had just one turnover Friday while forcing three Grizzlies miscues.

“The line did a spectacular job,” Pierleoni added. “That’s how it has to be every game. If your offensive line can’t it, you’re going to be in trouble. We are getting better each week and that’s what it’s all about.”

The Cougars scored on their first possession of the ball game, needing just five plays and 58 seconds to march 65 yards to paydirt.

Three double-digit runs by Slater moved the Cougars into Grizzlies’ (0-6 overall, 0-2 MBL) territory at the 35 yard line. Quarterback Brandon Pickens, who had a relatively quiet evening (4-of-12, 52 yards, one TD and one interception) did the bulk of his damage on one play, a 35-yard strike to wide receiver Bryant Cid for a Cougars 7-0 lead.

Slater escaped for a 53-yard jaunt up the left sideline, capping a one-play drive with 1:08 remaining in the opening period to push the Cougars’ lead to 14-0.

Christopher’s defense, which allowed just one offensive touchdown – a fourth-quarter screen pass from Sammy Elisando to J.P. Holbert that broke for 43 yards – held the Grizzlies following Slater’s score and the Cougars looked as though they were on the verge of blowing the contest wide open before halftime.

However, their drive stalled and a 28-yard field goal attempt was blocked and returned 76-yards by Jose Ramirez, breathing life into the visitors midway through the second quarter.

Each offense was stagnant as the second quarter continued. The Cougars had a chance to go up two scores as at the end of the period but Pickens had a pass picked off in the end zone, thwarting the threat.

“Part of that was me making that play call,” Pierleoni said. “I was not happy with myself.”

The missed opportunity quickly became a moot point in the second half, which the Cougars owned.

Aided by a pass interference call, the Cougars utilized a short field to increase their lead 21-6 on their initial possession of the second half. Slater punctuated a quick, four-play, 23 yard drive with a dive across the plane from three yards out for a 21-6 cushion.

Valdez signed his name to a two-play, 40 yard drive, having his number called on both snaps; the latter a 24-yard scamper to the end zone for a 27-6 lead with 3:42 left to play in the third.

Two minutes later, Mills recorded the first of his two touchdowns, shifting through the Grizzlies defensive line, finding open air on the other side showing off his open-field speed to outrun a trio of defenders to the goal line.

The freshman also scored on a 22-yard run with seven minutes to play in the fourth.

With the outcome well in hand, Pierleoni had a chance to clear his bench and the backups didn’t let the opportunity go to waste. Quarterback Brian Delgado hit Takoda Bowers for a 15-yard touchdown completion with 2:19 showing on the clock.

“Everyone knows what we are capable of,” Slater said. “We have to take what we did last week in practice and carry that mindset on for next week and the rest of the year.”

NOTES: Wyatt Rocheleau, Bryant Cid and Mikey Pirnik all has interceptions…the 12 points surrendered is a season low for the Cougars.

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