Visalia – The Gavilan Rams’ two-game winning streak came to a
screeching halt Saturday night when the host College of Sequoias
Giants parlayed four long touchdown plays into a 34-26 upset at
Mineral King Bowl.
Visalia – The Gavilan Rams’ two-game winning streak came to a screeching halt Saturday night when the host College of Sequoias Giants parlayed four long touchdown plays into a 34-26 upset at Mineral King Bowl.
While Gavilan will continue its pre-Coast Conference schedule with a Saturday night home date against Diablo Valley, coach John Lango’s charges may spend the next few days reliving the game that got away.
“We should have won, definitely,” conceded Lango after reviewing game tape.
“We had five turnovers in the first half, including two passes intercepted and returned for touchdowns. A missed assignment in the secondary gave up a 76-yard TD pass in the first quarter. We gave up a kick-off return for a touchdown in the final 15 seconds of the half.”
Facing a 34-13 deficit after three quarters, the Rams battled back for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
“At halftime (down 24-13), we spent the time talking about adversity because we were trailing for the first time this year,” said Lango. “We had the ball at the COS seven with a first and goal twice in the third quarter without scoring, then scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter while stopping the COS offense completely.”
Gavilan earned a 315-249 edge in total offense, including 77 yards and one touchdown by running back Daniel Salinas. El Ray Henry was held out of action, but will be available in the Gavilan backfield this weekend.
Gavilan was forced to the air for the second half, with quarterback Will Kilday responding with a 22-for-45 effort worth 242 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.
The game started on an ominous note for Gavilan when a fumble of the opening kick-off gave the Giants the ball on the Ram 21-yard line. The Ram defense shoved the Giants back to the 30 on three snaps before taking over on downs.
The Rams withstood a Kilday interception by Giant Dywan Brown, but could not survive a 76-yard TD bomb from DeMonte Johnson to Darius Passmore in the final minute of the quarter for a 6-0 score.
“We blew a coverage,” Lango said of the first scoring play. “Our defense was up in the quarterback’s face and forced the throw, but the missed assignment left one receiver alone.”
Gavilan grabbed a 7-6 lead when Salinas blew through a hole at left guard for a 22-yard burst to paydirt with 14:01 to go in the half. Horacio Arteaga drilled the point-after.
The momentum of the game changed in the next dozen minutes with two Kilday passes picked off and brought back for scores. Quran Barge snared a swing pass try by Kilday and jetted 55 yards for a 12-7 Giants edge. Defensive lineman Lawrence Finney covered 33 yards after catching a Kilday pass deflected by another defensive lineman, Cole Wilkins.
Trailing 18-7, Gavilan used a 45-yard kick-off return by Melvin Bryant to march to another score, Shane Butcher catching a two-yard slant pass from Kilday with 26 seconds left in the half.
Gavilan could not keep the score at 18-13 for the intermission, however, as David Robinson jetted 91 yards to a touchdown with 11 seconds left.
The Giants struck for a field goal and four-play, 44-yard drive to a touchdown in the third quarter. Gavilan handling the scoring chores in the fourth quarter. Steve Conner caught a 38-yard fade pass from Kilday with 9:05 left to make it 34-20. Cameron Shutts pilfered a Johnson pass and returned the ball 26 yards for a touchdown with 3:09 left.
“I was happy with the contributions of Salinas and Bryant in place of El Ray,” Lango said of the running game effort. “On defense, we had five sacks, including two by Roy Sims. We forced seven punts. COS had an edge in special teams, although our punter was better.”