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March 20, 2023

West Valley takes 18-14 victory to leave Gavilan winless

MORGAN HILL – An 18-point deficit in the second quarter proved too much for the Gavilan Rams to overcome as the visiting West Valley Vikings edged the home team 18-14 at Live Oak High School Saturday afternoon.

The Vikings did not do any damage in the second half, punting six times and fumbling the ball away once. Gavilan was able to score one touchdown in the second quarter, another in the third before coming up short offensively in the closing 15 minutes.

“We tried to change our game plan in the first quarter but it took us a while to get going,” Gavilan coach Spencer Gilford said of the 3-0 deficit after 15 minutes.

“Turnovers hurt us early and we were guilty of some poor tackling that made the West Valley running game become effective,” Gilford added. “We’ve got a lot to build on, we did a lot of good things.”

While the Rams take a 0-7 overall record into Saturday’s 6pm game at Monterey Peninsula College, West Valley moved to 1-1 in the Coast Conference and hosts Hartnell this weekend.

“We made the plays we needed to,” said Viking coach James Winkler. “We started nine freshmen on offense and then needed some others to fill in for us. Our offense did a nice, steady job. We forced some 3-and-outs early and that helped us.”

Jacob Montoya, a Live Oak High product, secured the game’s only points of the opening quarter with a 25-yard field goal for West Valley.

The Vikings made it 10-0 by covering 68 yards in eight plays for a touchdown with 10:40 left in the half. Rodrick Nash, who finished with a game-high 150 yards rushing, carried four times in the march before Blair Zerr, another Live Oak High graduate, bulled over left guard for the final four yards.

The Vikings kept the momentum by adding a 90-yard march to a touchdown on their next possession. Steven Heidger ran untouched 53 yards to paydirt on a fake double-reverse. On the point-after try, Ted Ornduff Jr., another Live Oak High graduate, raced over right end for the two-point PAT off the fake kick.

Gavilan responded with a 70-yard march for a touchdown. A Nate Ellis to Danny Maiello pass covered 33 yards to move the Rams to the Viking 35. Effective running by Ellis earned a first down at the 20 before Jakari Johnson sped 10 yards to the 10. Faced with a fourth-and-goal at the five, Gavilan opted to go for the touchdown. The Rams made the move pay off when Ellis flipped an option toss to Johnson and the freshman edged inside the pylon for the score with 1:14 left in the half. Ivan Lopez added the PAT kick.

When West Valley’s Johnathan Lopez got off a 10-yard punt with 47 seconds left in the third quarter, Winkler decided to accept a five-yard roughing the punter penalty on the Rams and try another punt. The second Lopez try was blocked cleanly by Luis Padilla and recovered at the Viking 14 by Justin McDowell-Brown.

Ellis needed only one play to add a touchdown for Gavilan. Rolling right under pressure, Ellis flipped the ball to an open Maiello in the end zone as the Rams trailing 18-14 with 26 seconds to play in the third quarter.

The Rams’ defense forced three Viking punts in the fourth quarter, including a crucial punt with 1:53 left than rolled to a stop at the Ram one. Ellis completed two passes for first downs to reach the Ram 38 before the offense lost the ball on downs.

Johnson, Gavilan’s top offensive threat, came up with 80 yards on the ground.  

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