Rayshon Mills said he had been waiting for a night like Friday night – a night where he could just cut loose. And did he ever. Mills scored four times – three in the first half – as the Cougars set the tone and tipped its Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division opener in its favor with a 41-19 victory over Everett Alvarez on Friday night in Gilroy.
“I had a good feeling about this week, because we had some really, really good practices,” said CHS head coach Tim Pierleoni, whose Cougars broke through for win No. 1 on the season. “We worked on tempo, tempo, tempo, and I think you could see that tonight.”
The win, perhaps a few weeks later that most involved preferred, couldn’t have come at a better time or in a better way. CHS ended the night on top in the turnover battle, two to one, and kept its first opponent under 20 points.
“We wanted to get after it because we were tired of the losses,” said sophomore defensive lineman Victor Sevillano, who had a sack and a fumble recovery. “We came after it and played as a team.”
CHS hit the ground running, mostly with Mills, who slid into a familiar role at running back, and amassed 203 yards on 28 touches.
“I just had to focus a lot on this week on running hard,” Mills said. “The line had the holes. They worked their butts off. The line is the backbone of this team.”
The offensive line, which didn’t allow a sack, went to work right away, clearing the way for a 14-play, 81-yard opening drive, which was capped by Mills’ 2-yard plunge seven minutes into the game.
Isaiah Campos recovered a botched snap on the Eagles ensuing possession. That set up a brief two-play scoring drive. Quarterback Sterling Montgomery first hit Raul Meza for 28 yards to the Eagles’ 11-yard line. He then led Max Sanford (two catches, 42 yards) to the back, left corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
Montgomery managed the game well, completing a number (12-of-20, 136 yards two TDs) of short to intermediate passes all the while protecting the football.
“He had a good game tonight,” Pierleoni said. “I thought he played well.”
Alvarez cut it to 13-7 when shifty sophomore Edrick Gamble found 24 yards of daylight on an option keeper on the first play of the second quarter.
CHS answered with another extended drive, this time using five passes and 10 runs to travel 85 yards with the final snap being a 2-yard touchdown from Mills.
“That’s what this offense has to look like,” Pierleoni said.
It was 20-13 when Mills manufactured No. 3 in the first half, going 9-yards across the goal line to lift CHS ahead 27-13 at the half.
The Cougars took advantage of Alvarez misfortune in the third quarter. A dropped pass on what would’ve been a touchdown, seven plays later turned into seven points for CHS when Montgomery connected with Andrew DeKeyrel for a 19-yard score.
Mills’ final carry of the night may have been his best.
One play after the Cougars defense forced Alvarez to turn the ball over on downs inside its own 25-yard line, Mills took the handoff off left tackle, lowered his shoulder and ran over a would-be tackler at the 14, did a 360-degree spin and high-stepped into the end zone to complete a highlight reel 22-yard touchdown to provide the Cougars’ with their largest lead, 41-13 with 11 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
“Rayshon was pressing so hard to make things happen earlier in the year,” Pierleoni said. “He just needed to let the game come to him. And sometimes just handing the ball off to him in the backfield is the best way to make that happen.”
Gamble threw a 21-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to close the margin a bit.
CHS faces Palma on the road next Friday.
NOTES: Christopher rushed for 270 yards…Cody Law added 42 yards on three carries to that total…Jacob Moen led the team in tackles…Around the Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division… Palma 22, Monterey 12…Salinas 54, Gilroy 7…San Benito Idle.