If the first turnover was the snowball, then the six others that followed created one giant avalanche that swallowed the Gilroy High football team and left a Monterey High 54-21 victory in its wake on homecoming night Friday in Gilroy.
The Mustangs (1-5 overall, 0-2 Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division) coughed up the ball seven times, four (three fumbles and one interception) coming in the first half – including a fumble turned 55-yard touchdown return by Blake Flores on the third play of the game.
“You turn the ball over like that, you can’t win. You can’t,” Gilroy High head coach Brian Boyd said.
The miscues hurt twofold in the first half. Not only did they disrupt a GHS offense that had it in mind to find some stability after a sour effort against Salinas one week earlier, but they also set up the Toreadores in prime real estate. Monterey (4-1 overall, 1-1 MBL) began three drives inside Mustangs territory. On two of those occasions, both following fumbles, Monterey took advantage of the favorable field position and put points on the board en route to a commanding 31-7 halftime lead.
Three second-half interceptions prematurely halted GHS drives in the second half. Monterey’s Tatum Tucker brought one back 70 yards to the end zone for a 51-14 Toreadores lead midway through the fourth quarter.
“I thought we were in the game. At halftime I even thought we were in the game if we weren’t turning the ball over like we were,” Boyd said. “I don’t understand where that came from. We haven’t done that all year. But it seems one week to the next, it’s one thing after another.”
In one way or another, Gilroy’s Brendan Holler accounted for all three of the Mustangs touchdowns. Holler and starting quarterback Mikey Guerrero connected for a 60-yard pass play to pay dirt that tied the game 7-7 at the 8:18 mark of the opening quarter.
Monterey went on to score 24 unanswered points, however.
The tandem dialed up a 25-yard touchdown in the third quarter, which made matter 31-14 in favor of Monterey.
Toreadores’ running back Donte Murphy distanced his team a bit more on Monterey’s next set of downs, scampering 71-yards for a touchdown.
The Mustangs turned to their playmaker Holler in search of any sort of fireworks. The senior lined up at receiver, tailback and quarterback and amassed parts of 264 yards (7-of-14, 84 yards three interceptions; 11 carries 62 yards, one TD; five catches, 100 yards, two TDs) in those capacities combined.
“We lost a couple players to injuries,” said Holler, who knew prior to kickoff that he would be an integral part of the Mustangs offense. “I was just trying to create something and make something happen. At Salinas, we pretty much gave up. We didn’t want that to happen again tonight. We realized that we need to play harder and with more pride.”
Holler ran for an 8-yard score with less than a minute to go in the fourth to tighten the margin before the final whistle.
Guerrero, too, played at multiple positions and added 20 receiving yards to his 11 rushing and 128 passing.
“Mistakes just bite us, and keep biting us,” Boyd said. “But, I thought the boys fought better. Maybe because we were at home. They didn’t quit like they did at Salinas. “
Monterey quarterback Jimmy Hill (6-of-10, 126 yards, two TDs) ran for two short first-half touchdowns – the first made it 14-7 and the second 21-7. A 46-yard field goal by Logan Hunter made it 24-7 Monterey. Hill hit tight end Tony Velitchkov for 16 yards to the pylon to hit that halftime cushion.
Velitchkov was the recipient of Hill’s second touchdown pass, which came with nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Hunter’s 37-yard field goal capped the scoring.
“I’m just going to try to keep their spirits up and keep trying to win football games,” Boyd said.
NOTES: Hill had two interceptions to join Tucker and Javier Vargas…Total yards: Monterey 282, Gilroy 308…A banged up GHS bunch did get two key players back Friday night, linebacker/running back Ian Morlang and defensive end Luke Otteson…Around the MBL: Salinas 26, San Benito 6…Palma 28, Christopher 12.