Prep Football: Cougars second half comeback pushes them past San Mateo

Christopher's Alex Pacheco catches a pass in the endzone to score for the Cougars during their game Friday against Carmel.

GILROY — Call them the comeback kids.
The Christopher Cougars scored four times in the third quarter for a come-from-behind victory, topping San Mateo 43-21 at home Saturday.
The Cougars trailed 21-15 at halftime, allowing the Bearcats to score with just 24 seconds left in the second quarter. Christopher coach Tim Pierleoni said his message to his team at halftime was simple: Wake up.
“I just told them ‘Look guys, we’re down at halftime but you’re a better team that they are’,” Pierleoni said. “We should come out and dominate the second half like we’ve been playing all week long. We were a little discombobulated. ….I’m glad we woke up in the second half — I think we played like a really good football team in the second half. We need to put two halves together though, not just one.”
The Cougars wasted no time in the second half, scoring off their first possession — a 16 play drive that ended with Rayshon Mills rushing nine yards into the endzone to give the team its first lead of the game at 22-21.
Christopher (3-1) then recovered the onside kick and needed only six plays to get to the endzone this time, starting from the San Mateo (2-3) 17-yard-line. Senior quarterback Sterling Montgomery found Tyler Fhurong for a 22-yard catch and run play that increased Christopher’s lead to 29-21.
But the Cougars weren’t done yet.
The Bearcats drive was over almost as quickly as it began. Junior defensive end Jacob Zimmerman intercepted Jason Gonzales’ pass and returned it for a pick 6 to put Christopher ahead 36-21.
“That was a huge play, that definitely changed the momentum of the game,” Pierleoni said. “That had to do a lot, to be honest with you, with him playing on our scout defense all week long, getting a bunch of reps as their defensive end and dropping into pass coverage.
“He really did a really good job of giving us a really good look all week long and then that right there was almost the exact same thing he was doing to us.”
Christopher would find the endzone one last time when Trevor Hadnot broke away for a 52-yard dash with 1:39 left in the third quarter for the final score of 43-21.
Montgomery gave the Cougars their first two scores of the game — a 25-yard pass to Alex Pachecho and an 11-yard keeper, both of which came in the second quarter. Montgomery finished 14 for 17 for 177 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the game.
“I think my O-line, everyone — Jared (Huddleston), Mark (Riffle), Nate (Silva), Marcus (Delgado) and Audrei (Arroyo) and even Trevor (Nicholson) — did a great job. I got touched one time,” Montgomery said.  “There were some things I had to fix from last week and I do that for the team — it’s not for me. I do everything for them.”
Mills was the rushing leader for the Cougars, getting 20 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown.
This was the last nonleague game for Christopher, who will hit the road to take on North Salinas at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Though it felt good to get another win before league, Montgomery said now — more than ever — his team needs to buckle down and play for each other.
“Everyone’s got each other’s backs,” he said. “We’re one team, one heart and one family. We’re just going to go into league game by game and see what we can do. Hopefully it turns out for the best for us, we’ve just got to play hard.”
There were some things I had to fix from last week and I do that for the team — it’s not for me. I do everything for them.”

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