In a game loaded with offense, defensive stand leads Gatos to win

The two teams combined for 84 points and 838 yards of total offense. They ran for seven touchdowns and passed for four more.

Still, on a night when offense was the name of the game, it turns out that defense proved the difference when Los Gatos pulled out an exciting 42-32 win over a powerful Wilcox team last Friday night at Helm Field.

Late in the game, with the Wildcats up just 35-32, the Wilcox offense had the football with nearly six minutes left to play–and Los Gatos hadn’t had much success stopping the Chargers most of the night.

This time, though, it would be very different.

Aftert Matt Hanna dropped a kick off returner at the Wilcox 39, the running game that had provided the Chargers with so much all evening ran into a wall. Matt Terbet made a tackle at the 41 on first down and Caden McCloughan followed with a stop at the 44 a play later.

So the Chargers tried to go to the air, and that didn’t work so well either. After an errant pass on third down, Miles Beach shot through the Wilcox line to slap a fourth-down pass into the quarterback’s face, and the Wildcats had the football and the lead with 4:32 left to play.

Seven plays later junior running Jordan Howell was dancing into the end zone, and in a game that saw eight lead changes, the no-quit Wildcats had all but locked up the 42-32 victory.

“These kids are just fighters,” said head coach Mark Krail of the Cats. “That’s what I really love about them.”

“Our offense was not pretty at times, but we were effective,” he added. “And I’m very proud of our offensive line, especially when it came to our running game in the fourth quarter. That’s when the linemen got real excited and just said run it, run it.”

And run it they did … 11 times for 63 yards in the fourth quarter, including the 4-yard run by Howell for the game-clinching touchdown with 2:03 left to play.

Howell finished the night with 88 yards on 15 carries and Ryan Gault ran six times for 32 yards. In all, Los Gatos ran up 153 yards on the ground behind tackles Savo Miljevich and Jake Seandel, guards Terbet and Charley Laragione and center Mark Shaheen.

“Our line just keeps getting better and better and better,” said Krail.

While the running game was strong, the Cats were pretty good through the air, too. Senior quarterback Hunter Bigge hit on 10 of 21 passes for 193 yards and three touchdowns, and junior Kyle Reid added a 42-yard TD toss to Grant Rosenbaum on the fake punt late in the first quarter.

“[Bigge] played great,” said Krail of his QB. “He’s our leader. He’s calm in the huddle and confident with what we’re trying to do.”

The win over Wilcox came in the league opener for each club. The Chargers brought a 3-0 record into Friday’s game before getting tagged for their first loss of the year, and the Wildcats evened their record at 2-2.

Los Gatos will travel to Saratoga on Oct. 9, 7 p.m., for the second game of the year in the De Anza Division of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League. The Falcons are 1-3 after opening the year with a tough 42-35 double overtime loss at Palo Alto.

Krail isn’t looking at Saratoga’s record, though. He knows the Falcons are always intent on beating the Wildcats, and with their high-scoring spread offense they are also tough to defend.

“We’re going to have our hands full,” he said. “We need to show up with everything we’ve got.”

And that means maybe a little more defense than the Cats showed against the Chargers, who ran for 373 yards and threw for 77 more while scoring five touchdowns last Friday night. Still, despite the numbers, the Wildcats put up some very impressive defensive stats in the game.

Senior linebackers Jake Holton and Colt Doughty combined for 31 tackles, Holton leading the club with 18 stops and Doughty adding 13. Three of Doughty’s tackles were in the Wilcox backfield and he also recovered a fumble.

Jack Clyne had a big night with 10 tackles and Terbet, Beach and Harrison Hibberd finished with six each. Hibberd and Beach each batted down passes and Beach forced a fumble that McCloughan recovered. McCloughan and Jake Tonges finished with four tackles apiece (Tonges forcing the fumble by Doughty recovered).

Gault and Kevin Potts added three tackles each, Thomas Gregg and Reid two each, Ryan Wilcox had two tackles to go with a pass interception and A.J. Trapani had two stops on special teams. Hanna, Seandel, Jack Randolph and Paul Badaracco were also in on tackles.

Los Gatos battled from behind early in the game. Wilcox scored on its first possession, but Seandel and Potts pounded the Wilcox ball carrier on the try for the two-point conversion to keep the lead at 6-0. Gatos answered before the end of the quarter.

A 22-yard toss from Bigge to Hibberd took the Cats to midfield before the offense stalled. The punt team came on, but Gatos faked the kick and Reid tossed a beauty down the right sideline to a streaking Rosenbaum for a 42-yard TD pass. Arun Craythorne kicked the first of his four extra points to give Gatos a tight 7-6 lead with 43.1 seconds left in the first period.

Wilcox scored again, but once more the two-point run was foiled–this time by Hibberd and Terbet–and the Cats trailed just 12-7.

Gault ran twice for 14 yards, but the offense stalled and the punt team came on again. This time Craythorne punted, and his 38-yarder pinned the Chargers at their own 11.

On the first play after the punt Beach forced the fumble that McCloughan recovered, and the Cats were in business deep in Wilcox territory at the 14.

Howell ran for 13 yards, then a couple of plays later followed Seandel and Laragione over the left side for the final yard and the TD.

The interception by Wilcox gave the football again with 2:27 left in the half and Bigge took advantage of it. He hooked up with Hibberd on passes for 13 and 12 yards, and after a 13-yard run by Howell, Bigge connected with Gault for 26 yards and a score with 49.8 left in the half, putting them up 20-12 at intermission.

The Chargers struck quickly in the second half, scoring on back-to-back possessions to move in front 25-20.

Jake Parinello got things going and then finished them up to put the Cats back in front. He returned the kickoff 25 yards to the Gatos 43, and after Bigge hit Beach for 32 yards and ran for 14 more, Parinello hauled in a toss from Bigge for four yards and a touchdown. Beach, who had made the tackle stop the Chargers on a two-point attempt after their first touchdown of the second half, caught the two-point pass from Bigge to put the Cats on top 28-25.

Wilcox scored early in the fourth to regain the advantage, 32-28, but then the Cats took over. A 12-yard pass from Bigge to Beach set up a 50-yard touchdown pass for the two, and that set up the big defensive stop that led to the final Los Gatos score that wrapped up the win.

After Beach batted down the Chargers’ fourth-down pass, Gault ran for 12 yards, Holton for six, Howell for 16 and Parinello for nine to set up the 4-yard TD run by Howell. Craythorne’s fourth kick made the final 42-32.

In addition to his 32 yards on the ground, Gault finished the night with three receptions for 67 yards. Beach caught three for 94, Hibberd two for 25, Parinello two for seven and Rosenbaum the one for 42.

Leave a Reply