Missed opportunities plague Gavilan in loss to LMC

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Gavilan suffered its first loss of the season, falling to Los Medanos College 27-15 Saturday.
The Rams (2-1 overall) had opportunities through out the game, holding LMC to six points in the first half and a couple of drives that went deep into Mustang territory.
Gavilan just couldn’t find the end zone early on, including fumbling on the 1-yard line and missing a 26-yard field goal.
“We didn’t execute when the time came,” said coach Mike Dovenberg. “We have a really good football team, we just had missed opportunities: We put the ball on the ground in the red zone and came away with nothing. If we score touchdowns in those situations, we win the game.”
In Gavilan’s second drive, the Rams were forced to punt. As the kick bounced around, it hit a LMC player and Adam Garza fell on the ball, giving the Rams first down on the Mustang 21.
Five plays latter, Gavilan was on the 1-yard line about to punch it in when the Rams fumbled.
But backed up on its own 1, LMC couldn’t get out of the shadow of its endzone and was tackled for a safety.
Gavilan had a second chance late in the second quarter when Louie Bustillos recovered a fumbled hand off on the LMC 15.
But Gavilan only got as close as the 8 and eventually settled for a 26-yard field goal that barely missed wide right.
The Rams got a quality chance at the end of the half with the ball on the 50 and PJ Reichert caught an 11-yard pass, but the Rams ran out of time.
Reichert had one of the biggest plays of the day for Gavilan, when hit Beau Bassian for a 39-yard pass off a trick play, setting up the Rams first and goal on the LMC 10.
But three runs and a short completion ended with the Rams just shy of the end zone.
Still, the Rams trailed 6-2 after the first half and 13-9 after three quarters.
The Rams’ defense had an interception, two recovered fumbles, three stops on fourth down and forced a safety.
The defense and special teams accounted for all 15 of the Rams’ points, scoring on a safety, a fumble returned for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a score.
Although Gavilan gave up 357 yards of offense, no one for LMC had a 100-yard day, with two running backs finishing with just shy of 70 yards to lead all runners.
“Defense played really, really well. We gave up a few big plays here and there, but for the most part they did great,” Dovenberg said. “They scored points, and that’s always a positive thing on the defensive side. I’m really impressed with them as a group. It was really incredible effort out of that unit.”
The offense couldn’t turn those opportunities into points and eventually the Mustangs got rolling.
The Rams looked like they had the momentum coming out of halftime, when JC Caldwell returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for a 9-6 lead.
Gavilan then held on fourth down on LMC’s next drive and charged 66 yards to the Mustangs’ doorstep. But that was as close as Gavilan would come.
The Rams were stopped on the 1 yard line and LMC turned around and went 99 yards on 11 plays, including converting on fourth down from the Rams’ 18 for a 13-9 lead.
That quickly went to a 20-9 lead when LMC’s first drive of the fourth quarter needed one play for a score.
Morgan Benjamin found a seam and broke loose for a 67-yard run.
Gavilan’s next drive ended at midfield when it failed to convert on fourth down, setting up LMC’s final score capped with Gabe Taylor hitting Billy Wells for a 12-yard touchdown.
The Rams looked like they got new life immediately after when Brandon Finona picked up an LMC fumble and returned it 56 yards to cut the deficit down to 27-15.
The defense immediately got the ball back for Gavilan’s offense but despite earning a first down on an LMC penalty, the Rams couldn’t get past midfield.
Gavilan now prepares to start conference play when they travel to Monterey Peninsula College for a 6 p.m. kickoff.
Dovenberg said despite the loss, he was still confident his team is going to bounce back and come out stronger in the next game.
“Four or five plays determine a game. The problem with football is you don’t know which four or five those are going to be,” Dovenberg said. “We just got to do a little better job executing over and over and when opportunity does come, we’ve got to execute. If we do our job and take care of our business, we’re going to be fine. This is a good football team … We’ve got a bunch of really tough kids who are going to bounce back from this.”

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