And just like that, the Gavilan College football team moved back into Coast Conference title contention Saturday night, holding on to defeat the San Jose City College Jaguars 30-27 at Garcia-Elder Sports Complex.
The Rams, 1-1 in the conference with three games to play, visit the West Valley Vikings Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Saratoga High School.
“We had all three phases going,” said winning coach Spencer Gilford. “We scored on offense and special teams. Even though the defense did not score, the defense set us up to score several times.”
Quarterback Omar Kharroub (18-of-36 for 236 yards passing) ran for two touchdowns and threw for another as the Rams piled up 20 first downs and 369 yards of total offense.
“”He grew up a bit,” said Gilford of the sophomore signal-caller. “He played smart.”
San Jose City, 0-7 for the season, fell behind 10-7 at halftime before regrouping to take the lead twice. The Jaguars scored touchdowns on three consecutive series to take a 27-24 lead with 7:50 left in the game.
Kharroub led the Rams to a 69-yard drive for the game’s final points. On the drive’s lone third down, Bobby Guyton’s difficult catch of a Kharroub toss moved the Rams into Jaguar territory. On the next scrimmage play, Kharroub spun away from pressure, then moved right up to the line of scrimmage before hoisting a 36-yard pass to Marcus Harrell. The Jaguars also were called for a dead-ball personal foul, leaving the Rams at the San Jose City 7-yard line. Kharroub ended the suspense two plays later with his second quarterback sneak to paydirt of the night to push Gavilan on top 30-27.
“Gavilan battled just as hard as we did,” first-year SJCC coach Jerry Wyness said. “They made one more play than us. We got our running game going and we made some catches when we needed to,” added the coach.
The third quarterback of the game for the Jaguars, James Davis, keyed the scoring drives with a 4-for-4 effort through the air for 98 yards and a touchdown.
The fifth passing attempt for Davis turned out to be the play of the game. Davis looked inside to wide-out Kelechi Nwabidia with the Jaguars moving at the Ram 35 and 2:32 to play. Sophomore strong safety Shawn Paul cut inside for the interception to deny a fourth consecutive scoring march for the visitors.
“I read where the receiver was going and I knew if I undercut it that the game would be over. I read the quarterback and then made the play,” said Paul.
Paul ended the suspense in the game’s final five seconds with his second interception.
“That was Shawn’s best game,” said Gilford. “He sealed the game twice.”
San Jose City controlled much of the first half, only to give the Rams the lead in the closing 10 seconds of the half.
The Jaguars scored on their third series of the game when quarterback Nicholas Rubio spun away from pressure and dashed around the left side for a 76-yard touchdown run. Ricardo Solorio’s PAT kick gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead with 3:45 left in the first period.
Kharroub connected with Danny Maiello on a 65-yard pass play to the Jaguar 11-yard line in the second quarter. Gavilan’s Wildcat offense gained no yardage, however, and Dominic Changco hit the 28-yard field goal to leave Gavilan down 7-3.
The Jaguars had an opportunity to go into intermission with the lead after an interception of a Kharroub pass by Christopher Milton. The Jaguars called a time out with 38 seconds left, then were forced to punt after two rushing losses were followed by Rams time outs. Harrell made the Jaguars pay by bolting through the coverage to a 48-yard punt return and a touchdown for the 10-7 intermission lead.
Harrell’s 44-yard punt return in the third quarter set up Gavilan’s next scoring drive. Kharroub followed a 25-yard completion to Harrell to the Jaguar 8-yard line by pitching a slant pass to Maiello for the 17-7 advantage.
“The defender was five yards off so I used my speed and ran the slant to the end zone,” Maiello said.
The Jaguars responded with a touchdown on the next series – Joseph Arthur bolting 36 yards off right tackle for the score with 1:33 left in the third quarter.
Davis put San Jose City on top 21-17 with a 39-yard loft into the end zone to Nwabidia. Gavilan came back with a nine-play drive covering 91 yards to pull ahead 24-21. On third-and-10 call, Donovan Weatherspoon burst through the middle and went 82 yards to the Jaguar 9-yard line. The Rams appeared to stall and had Changco hit a 23-yard field goal with 9:41 left, but a roughing the kicker call gave the Rams life on the three. Kharroub scored on third down with 8:47 left for the 24-21 edge.
Devin Kawewehi, on the way to 142 yards on 20 carries, raced 46 yards to a touchdown two plays into the next Jaguar series for a 27-24 advantage.
Weatherspoon earned the team’s first 100-yard rushing performance of the year with 102 yards on 11 carries.
The Jaguars finished with a 384-369 edge in total offense. The visitors were hurt by 12 penalties to the Rams’ six.
“We learned how to finish,” summed up Gilford about the Rams’ second-half effort.