Gilroy goes to 5-0 thanks to second half push

Gilroy raises its helmets at the end of the third quarter against Alisal. The Mustangs improved to 5-0 with a 39-19 win Friday night, representing the best start for the team since 2008.

Gilroy once again proved just how dangerous of a second half team it is.
And in a 39-19 win over Alisal, the Mustangs proved how difficult they are to stop when they have two runningbacks doing damage.
Joseph Barnes went for 149 yards and two touchdowns and Christian Rodriguez added 123 yards with two TDs as Gilroy won its Pacific Division opener to improve to 5-0 overall.
“I think we could be one of the most dangerous teams if not in the section than maybe in California,” Rodriguez said.
His coach sang his praises after the game.
“Christian is a great kid and a great athlete. He definitely was a good counter to Joe,” Jubenal Rodriguez said.
Jubenal added, “We can be very dangerous as you saw today, but all the credit goes to the offensive line. They don’t always get all the credit, but they were there to open up holes.”
The Mustangs have now won nine straight regular season games and 10 of their last 11 matchups when you include last year’s playoffs.
This now sets up Gilroy for a date with history in two week’s time. The Mustangs will next take on Christopher in the rivalry Bell game on Oct. 6 in what could easily be a clash of unbeatens vying for control of the Pacific Division.
Christopher routed Pajaro Valley Friday night to improve to 5-0 as well. While Gilroy enjoys a bye week ahead of the game, the Cougars will travel to North Monterey County who sits at 1-4 overall after a loss to Watsonville Friday.
That will set up a 5-0 Gilroy against a 6-0 Christopher as the Mustangs will attempt to end a six-year losing streak to the Cougars.
“That is a good program. I said it back in my first year in 2015 that I have a lot of respect for him (Tim Pierleoni) and his program. I’m looking forward to it being competitive,” Jubenal Rodriguez said.
Meanwhile Friday night, Gilroy had to fend off a second-quarter run by Alisal that gave the Mustangs pause at halftime.
The Trojans’ triple-option proved tough at times to stop as Gilroy’s defensive assignments broke down at times leading to big plays.
“They run a unique offense that you don’t see every day,” said coach Jubenal Rodriguez. “You always see those teams running those spread offenses now so we really had to be disciplined with our reads against the triple option.”
Gilroy had taken a 15-0 lead after the first quarter and threatened more at the start of the second quarter.
The Mustangs converted on fourth and 7 when Jon Jon Castro found Max Pierce for a 16-yard conversion to the Alisal 20. But Gilroy was denied points after getting held on fourth and 15 from the 25.
Alisal made that hurt when quarterback Andrew Marquez found Israel Corona for a 79-yard touchdown pass.
Three plays later, Gilroy turned the ball over on a fumble, giving the Trojans the ball back on the Mustang 19.
Marquez needed two rush plays to cover the distance capped with a five-yard touchdown run. But after a mishandled snap, Alisal trailed 15-13.
Gilroy retook a nine-point lead after a nine-play, 74-yard drive with Richard Perez, Jr., going the final 22 yards for a touchdown.
But with 3 minutes left in the half, Alisal executed an eight-play, 82-yard drive capped with Marquez hitting Corona for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 9 seconds left in the half.
As it has done this entire season, the Gilroy coaches went into the break and made some adjustments to counter what Alisal was doing.
“The first half was definitely a chess match between the two coaching staffs,” Coach Jubenal Rodriguez said. “We would make adjustments and they would counter that adjustment. We just kept playing chess in the first half. We finally came up with a solid second-half adjustment and it ended up working for us.”
It started immediately as Gilroy halted the Trojans at midfield and read a fake punt perfectly sending Alisal backward.
Rodriguez said his team knew it had to execute better and it came out of the break with a purpose.
“For that second half we were just thinking we weren’t reading our keys, we weren’t statying disciplined. We just had to get a reality check. Coach had to kick us a little bit, but obviously the result of the game we came out and came out with that W and did our assignments.”
And the Mustangs immediately turned it into points, going on a 10-play, 56-yard drive and Rodriguez going the final seven for a 29-19 lead.
From there, the Gilroy defense was as relentless as it was stingy. The Trojans crossed midfield just once the entire second half and never after Gilroy went up by 10.
Alisal had 211 yards of total offense in the first half. The Trojans had 54 yards total in the second half.
After the touchdown, Marquez was stripped of the ball and Andrew Castro recovered after the ball bounced between players for several seconds.
Gilroy capitalized by kicking a 25-yard field goal to go up 32-19 at the close of the third quarter.
After a three and out, the Mustangs put the game on ice by going on a 90-yard, 14-play drive capped with Barnes punching the ball in from three yards out.
Now as the focus shifts to the next game, Gilroy is going to focus on the fundamentals and staying sound on all sides of the ball.
“Just keep on executing. Just doing assignments and going 100 percent on every play.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version omitted the word dangerous from Christian Rodriguez’ quote at the top of the story.