JUCO Football: Rams test Hartnell, but fall 34-17

Gavilan's Luke Morrin tosses the ball as Reedley tries to defend Sept. 26 at Christopher High School. 

GILROY—A young Gavilan team knew it the challenge it faced taking on the undefeated Hartnell Panthers. While it wasn’t the result they wanted, the Rams kept the Panthers on their toes for a full 60 minutes Saturday at Christopher High. 
The Panthers came away with a 34-17 victory, leaving Gavilan with a 1-7 overall mark going into next Saturday’s roadtrip to Monterey Peninsula College.
“We played a grind-it-out game,” said Rams head coach Mke Dovenberg. “We played hard, but we still made some mistakes. We challenged Hartnell every single play. I thought our defense played extremely well.”
Hartnell coach Matt Collins noted that Gavilan was up to the task Saturday night.
“Gavilan played tough, they were well prepared,” the Panther coach said. “(I) give them all the credit in the world, they scored points.”
The Panthers threatened to break the game open after scoring touchdowns in their first two possessions of the game.
Hartnell needed eight plays to cover 52 yards. Justin Gutierrez, the Panthers’ quarterback, converted two third-down plays, one of 17 and another of 32 yards to reach Gavilan’s 4-yard-line. Halfback Marcus Washington slashed off left tackle from five yards out to help Hartnell to a 7-0 advantage.
“I tried to hit the creases as much as possible to help the offense,” Washington said.
Gavilan quarterback Luke Morin tried to move the Rams in for the tying touchdown, bolting for a 20-yard run and finding Jarijah Harrison open for 15 more yards. The Rams were foiled on fourth down, however, leaving the Panthers primed to move 66 yards in eight plays for a 13-0 lead with 5:26 left in the first quarter. Eppy Henriques took a Gutierrez bubble pass the final two yards to paydirt.
Gavilan began a drive at the Rams’ 23 with 9:32 left in the half. Three plays later the Rams were down 13-7. Morin’s lofted pass to Harrison along the right sideline gave the speedy wideout the chance to cover 64 yards for the touchdown.
“Jarijah’s coming into his own,” said Dovenberg.
The Panthers took advantage of a Ram fumble with 11:44 left in the third quarter on the Gavilan 30 to make it 20-7 on the next play. Gutierrez rushed off the right side to give Hartnell a cushion with 11:34 left. 
The Rams responded with a 12-play march over 38 yards to make it a 20-10 contest. Dovenberg opted for a 44-yard field goal try from Justin Keathley-Deras, who nailed a successful kick.
Hartnell needed seven plays to add another touchdown, Henrigues taking a Gutierrez offering in stride behind the Gavilan defense with 3:28 left in the third quarter.
Gavilan scored on the first play of the fourth quarter. Morin converted on fourth-and-goal from the 18 to Anthony Brooks for the touchdown. Hartnell finished the scoring with a four-yard rush with 5:26 left in the game.
Harrison finished with six receptions for 136 yards and one score.