FOOTBALL: Rams downed by Lobos in conference opener

Coast Conference football started on a sour note for the Gavilan College Rams on Saturday night, dropping a 32-10 game to the Monterey Peninsula College Lobos at Garcia-Elder Sports Complex.
The inability to convert several drives inside MPC’s 20-yard stripe in the first half kept the Rams from taking a lead into the intermission.
“We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities,” head coach Spencer Gilford said after his club dropped to 1-5 for the season. “I’m not happy with tonight, that’s the bottom line.”
The Lobos brought a 1-4 non-conference mark into Saturday’s contest. The visitors made two mistakes on special teams to allow the Rams to move inside the Lobo 12-yard line on the first offensive series.
Gavilan punter Jeff Smith was roughed, keeping the first Rams drive alive. After reaching Lobo territory, a Dominic Changco 37-yard field goal try sailed wide right, but another roughing the kicker foul gave Gavilan new life at the Lobo 10.
Three plays from scrimmage lost one yard, leaving Changco to hit a 28-yarder for the 3-0 Ram lead with 8:23 left in the first quarter.
After Lobo kicker Stefan Rock missed a 29-yard field goal with four minutes to go in the first quarter, the teams exchanged punts without another first down earned.
The Lobos took advantage of a 10-yard Rams punt to set up a series at the Gavilan 37. After earning one first down, Rock’s 26-yard field goal tied the score with 12:59 left in the half.
Another of those opportunities for the Rams slipped away one play after the Lobo kickoff. Ricky Jones burst through the coverage for a 75-yard kick-off return to the visitors’ 10. A fumble in the backfield left the football available for the Lobos to accept the turnover.
Monterey Peninsula responded to the change in momentum by moving 95 yards to a touchdown in 10 plays. Workhorse halfback Nicholas Alarcon, good for 151 yards on 27 carries, burst off left tackle untouched on the way to the final 45 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 8:57 to play in the half. Rock’s PAT try sailed wide to leave the score at 9-3.
Linebacker Jose Sanchez thwarted the next MPC threat with an interception with 5:43 left. The Lobos faired better on their next series, covering 51 yards on three plays to take a 16-3 lead. After quarterback Cole Houston passed for 30 and 14 yards, Alarcon finished the march with a 2-yard push over right tackle with 1:29 to go.
“We left Gavilan with too much time,” said MPC coach Mike Rasmussen.
The Rams quickly covered 60 yards to their lone touchdown of the evening. Quarterback Omar Kharroub found Christian Goldstein open for a 29-yard pass to the MPC 13 with 30 seconds left. Kharroub followed with a slant pass to Marcus Harrell at the 2-yard line. The quick receiver spun away from coverage and into the end zone with 17 seconds left as the Rams trailed 16-10.
While Gavilan failed to garner another point in the final 30 minutes, MPC cushioned its lead with another 16 points.
After the Lobos downed a punt on the Ram one 2:21 into the third quarter, Kharroub’s attempted swing pass turned into a safety for an 18-10 MPC edge.
The Lobos followed with a five-play series for a touchdown with 10:26 left in the third quarter. Jordan Fowler turned a Houston swing pass into a 26-yard scoring play.
Chris Gervacio ran an interception of a Kharroub aerial back 52 yards for a touchdown with 4:42 left in the third quarter to complete the scoring.
Smith earned his fifth interception of the season with 8:31 left in the game to foil another Lobo scoring march inside the Rams 10-yard stripe.
“This was a typical Coast Conference battle,” said Rasmussen. “A lot of big plays helped us. I have a great deal of respect for Gavilan. We didn’t help ourselves at all in the first quarter. Our running game bailed us out.”
MPC fashioned a 477-217 edge in total offense. Houston covered 173 yards on 9-of-18 passing, while Kharroub was 16-of-37 for 210 yards.
Bobby Guyton snared six passes for 73 yards for the Rams.
“Our execution on offense was not up to par,” Gilford said. “We got into the red zone early but couldn’t finish. After a big kickoff return, we gave it right back. Defensively, some mis-alignments led to giving up some big plays.”
Coach Gilford’s Rams continue conference action Saturday at 5 p.m. by hosting the San Jose City College Jaguars.

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