The first home game of the year for Gavilan College started out promising, but shortly after kickoff in the third quarter, the Rams found themselves in a familiar place resulting in a 44-28 loss against Redwood College.
At the half, the Rams (0-2) trailed 17-14, a slim deficit against a high-powered Corsairs (1-1) offense. The game turned on the Rams fast. Corsairs kick returner Marcus Finney returned the opening kick of the second half for an 80-yard touchdown, and on the ensuing Rams drive, Redwoods defensive back Tariq Moore picked off Rams quarterback John Bell and returned the ball for a 30-yard touchdown giving the Corsairs what turned out to be an insurmountable lead.
“It was the third quarter; they scored 21 points,” Rams coach John Lango said. “ Other than that we would have been right in it.”
The Rams got on the board first when Bell, a Sobrato High graduate, side stepped pressure, stepped up in the pocket and found sophomore receiver Juwaun Hardy in the end zone for a 40-yard strike and a 7-0 lead.
“That was my first college touchdown, so I’m pretty happy about that,” Bell said. “It was a simple read. If the safety comes down, go over the top. If he backpedals, throw it underneath. He came down, so I knew I had it open over the top. There was pressure from the line, I spun away from that, and he (Hardy) was still open, so I just threw it up for him and he made a great catch.”
Redwoods got its first score when quarterback Brody Lucero hit receiver Zachary Loveland for a 30-yard touchdown. Lucero and Loveland gave the Rams defense problems throughout. In their season opener, a 41-34 loss to Monterey Peninsula College, Lucero threw for 509 yards, five touchdowns and Loveland caught 10 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
The Rams found their game on their third possession. After a solid return by sophomore Corey Garcia which brought the ball up to the 50-yard line, running back Kyrie Harbin went to work. With runs of 10 yards, 25 yards, a crucial, short first down rush on the goal line, Harbin busted through for a 4-yard rushing touchdown, tying the game at 14-14.
Defensive lineman and San Benito High grad Richard Justo was one of the bright spots in an otherwise frustrating game for Gavilan. Justo had two sacks, a blocked kick on special teams, and stuffed the run throughout the game.
“He’s a good football player, and we played a good game on defense today,” Lango said. “But we didn’t play how we were coached, and that’s disappointing.”
A blocked Rams punt set up Redwoods on the 20-yard line. The Corsairs capitalized with a short Lucero to receiver Marcus Finney pass for a 6-yard touchdown. Rams’ defensive backs Nathan Aguayo and Alec Calderon each hauled in two interceptions. It would have been three interceptions for each if not for penalties.
“We should have had more,” Lango said of the would-be-turnovers. “Toomany penalties. Too many guys doing what they wanted to do.”
Bell added a short rushing touchdown in the third quarter. Next week the Rams take on De Anza at home and the Rams should expect another tough game.
“Coach said it’s a good team, but I feel if we put the defense and offense together like I know we can do, we’ll stand a great chance,” Bell said.