Prep Football: Live Oak blasts past Gilroy 42-6 in opener

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The Live Oak football team charges out onto the field after halftime during Friday's game against Gilroy at Christopher High. 

GILROY—Live Oak wanted to get its season off to a fast start. And after Friday night’s 42-6 win opening night win over Gilroy at Christopher High, the Acorns can safely say it was a mission accomplished.
Live Oak exploded for a 21-point first quarter, thanks to back-to-back scores from junior running back Jacob Ryder. The Acorn rushed for a 14-yard touchdown on his team’s first drive, needing less than three minutes to get on the scoreboard.
Ryder struck again on Live Oak’s next possession after zigzagging his way through the Mustangs defense for an 85-yard score.
“I’m not satisfied yet; we just gotta keep going,” said Ryder, who led his team with 114 yards on five carries. “We’ve got to practice hard for Christopher next week.”
The Acorns needed just one play on their next possession to widen their lead. Senior quarterback Eric Ornduff connected with Isaac Nfon for a 41-yard touchdown to give Live Oak a dominant 21-0 lead after the first.
“We just talked about getting off to a fast start and making some plays,” Acorns coach Mike Gemo said. “We just let the chips fall where they may after that.”
The visitors kept the pressure on in the second as Jacob Locsin capped off a 55-yard drive with a 4-yard rushing TD to put his team ahead 28-0. On their next possession, Ornduff found Paul Lomanto, who plowed his way through the Mustang defenders for a 28-yard score. Sophomore Christian Guary capped scoring with a 2-yard rushing touchdown with just 33.9 seconds left in the half.
But the offense wasn’t the only one making plays. The Acorns defense was solid and didn’t allow Gilroy past midfield in the entire first half. The Mustangs sophomore quarterback Jon Jon Castro felt the pressure, too. He was taken down five times in the game and intercepted by Alex Cornejo late in the fourth quarter.
“We came out extremely nervous,” Mustangs head coach Jubenal Rodriguez said. “It’s a completely different culture at Gilroy now, so a lot of guys didn’t accept it, which is why our numbers are so low. We’re going to go back to the drawing board, watch the film and see what we can fix.”
The Mustangs seemed to shake off those nerves in the second half. They completed a nine-play, 76-yard drive with a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Noe Garcia. The extra point attempt, however, was blocked.
Garcia, who normally plays defense but was filling in for some injured Mustangs and provided some hard-nosed running. On the second play of the half, he broke free for a 45-yard gain, which put Gilroy in Live Oak territory for the first time in the game.
“It’s odd. I haven’t played running back since my freshman year,” Garica said. “…they needed me, my number was called and I just took it.”
Despite the lopsided score, Rodriguez told his team at halftime to stick to the game plan and run their system. The team responded, especially the defense, which helped silence the Acorns.
“Coming out the second half I was just tired,” Garcia said. “I saw the scoreboard and I felt our momentum was just down. Something had to give or we were going to end up scoreless and they were going to just keep running it. We just had to bring it in the second half.”
Both teams will now turn their attention to next week’s South County match-up. Live Oak (1-0) will host a dangerous Christopher High team, which has retained the South County championship title for the past two years. The Cougars will clash with the Acorns at 7 p.m. Sept. 11 at Live Oak in Morgan Hill
“We made some mistakes on defense and some blocking mistakes on offense, but we’ll fix it throughout the week and we’ll get better next week,” Gemo said.
Ryder added: “We just got to fix up the little things.”
Gilroy will play host to Sobrato at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at Christopher High. But before then, Rodriguez said his team has some work to do.
“That’s an A-League level team (Live Oak) and we are obviously not there yet,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep working on our fundamentals and work on being more physical.”

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