San Benito carried the VFW Memorial Trophy to midfield for the ceremonial coin toss and ran right back to Hollister with it for the third straight season three hours later.
There was no machine gun-style celebration this time, but San Benito fired plenty of offensive ammunition at Gilroy High, storming through the Mustangs 70-0 in the most lopsided Prune Bowl result to date on Friday night in Gilroy.
“This was definitely a motivational game for us,” San Benito senior lineman Nick Chicoine said. “It’s the Prune Bowl. We came out last Monday and progressed all week. We were looking forward to game day, and we came out and did our job.”
In the 56th annual contest, the 70 points is the most scored by one team since the 57 that GHS put up in its 2007 victory. It was also the first shutout since 2008, when the Mustangs won 47-0. San Benito has now trumped the Mustangs six out of the last seven times the game has been played in Gilroy.
“I did not think anything like that was going to happen,” San Benito head coach Chris Cameron said. “The kids came out and played hard tonight. It was a really, really good win for us, because it’s been a while.”
San Benito (3-4 overall, 1-2 Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division) had not had an on-the-field win about six weeks, dating back to opening night. In between were losses to Palo Alto, Willow Glen, Salinas and Monterey, and a forfeit win over Los Altos.
“This is definitely a turnaround for our season,” San Benito senior offensive lineman Noah Brann said. “We wanted to establish right off the bat that we were here to win and keep that trophy one more year. When it comes to the Prune Bowl, it’s records aside. It’s a game you will never forget.”
It was a forgettable night for the Mustangs (2-6 overall, 1-3 MBL Gabilan Division) through and through, and clearly not what head coach Brian Boyd had envisioned.
“I said before tonight that this game was going to send somebody’s season one way and send somebody’s the other,” said a solemn Boyd, whose squad heads into its bye week with two more games left in the season. “I thought they battled. They didn’t fold, we just got beat by a good team.”
San Benito had a touchdown on its six of its seven first-half possessions, needing just 24 plays from scrimmage to rack up 42 points and nearly 300 yards of offense.Two series were set up deep in Mustangs’ territory following interceptions by a Balers defense that held GHS’s offense to 194 yards (43 in the second half) on the night. Another two thefts – by Cody Cameron and Landon Akhtar – were in the end zone to spoil Gilroy drives. And Cameron returned one of the Balers five picks in the first half 60-yards for a touchdown that lifted San Benito to a 49-0 halftime lead.
“They tried to stay in it, but we just couldn’t do anything,” Boyd said. “We were moving the ball pretty well early on. The first few series went well. We were running the ball, but we got away from that.”
San Benito forced eight GHS turnovers in all. Three different Mustangs threw at least one interception.
“As soon as the defense gets the ball to us, we have to respond. They did their job and we have to do ours,” Chicoine said. “The best way to thank them is to put points on the board.”
Points were tallied in a hurry. Touchdown runs by Zach Hicks and John Hawkes (15 carries, 119 yards, 3 TDs) moved San Benito ahead 14-0 in the first quarter. On the first snap of the second quarter, quarterback David Stanton hit receiver Robert Soto on a quick hitch route. Soto turned the minimal gainer into an electrifying 63-yard race to pay dirt to make it 21-0.
Four minutes later, Stanton (4-of-7, 95 yards, 2 TD) paired with Zach Perez for a 5-yard touchdown and a 28-0 Balers lead. Stanton threw the ball just once more in the half, and the Balers did not attempt another pass in the second half.
Damien Botelho (five carries, 100 yards 2 TDs) owned the next 14 Balers points, scooting in from 11 yards and 40 yards before Cody Cameron registered his pick-6.
Hawkes shouldered the brunt of offensive load in the second half and coach Cameron emptied his plentiful bench. Hawkes scored twice more and Jason Dorado pushed accounted for touchdown No. 10 with 1:48 to play in the game.
“We had guys who hadn’t played one play all season, step in and get their first action tonight,” coach Cameron said. “Our kids that got a chance to get in played well. We needed the taste of a victory and the kids came out and played hungry tonight.”
• The Mustangs thought they had spoiled the shutout late in the fourth quarter, but back-up quarterback Jose Salazar’s 31-yard strike to Brendan Holler was nullified by a penalty.
• Ricky Alvarado gained 75 yards on 13 carries for the Mustangs, 74 coming in the first half.
• John Canes and John Barrera had one sack a piece for San Benito.
• San Benito finished with 472 yards, 377 coming on the ground.
• A running clock, which could have been used starting in the third quarter if both coaches agreed to utilize it, was not put into affect until the fourth quarter.
“It is what it is,” Boyd said. “We are going to keep fighting, keep working.”
• Around the MBL: Monterey 35, Salinas 21; Palma 55, Alvarez 7.