by David Winchell
SAN GABRIEL – In a matchup of teams both without a Mission Valley League victory, the home team Gabrielino Eagles eked out the narrowest of victories against the Mountain View Vikings, 7-6. The Eagles’ defense had to make several stops inside the red zone of as the Vikings ran up over 300 yards of total offense, most of it on the ground. The Vikings ran the ball 42 times and threw it just twice, completing just one for 4 yards.
The game pitted the two 0-4 teams in the Mission Valley League, both looking to end the 2011 season with a win. The two squads moved the ball effectively but were unable to put the ball into for scores. Mountain View took the opening kickoff and in 12 plays (all rushes) got down to the two-yard line. On 4th and goal, the Eagles defense stiffened forced the turnover on downs. Gabrielino then began a 19 play drive, helped by a roughing the kicker penalty, but it ended with a fumble inside the 15 yard line.
In the second quarter, Mountain View moved the ball to the 10-yard line, brought in the field goal unit, but the attempt was wide to the right, leaving the double shutout score intact. Gab’s next drive ended with an interception, but soon got the ball back after a punt with the end of the first half looming. A 23-yard run by Senior Jonathan Perini led to an 8-yard touchdown pass from Mark Winchell to Cameryn Dennis-Matthews. Kicker Oscar Palma booted through the PAT and with 0:48 remaining in the half, the Eagles had broken the scoreless tie.
In the second half, Mountain View took the ball in on their first drive with Jose Zamora scoring on a 5 yard run. With the run offense slicing up the Eagles defense, Coach Jim Wilson decided to go for two. Zamora took the ball, but stumbled and never made it to the end zone.
Taking the 7-6 lead, Gabrielino was marching downfield, but Winchell was picked off at the two yard line. The Viking advanced all the way to the Eagles 4 yard line and again decided to ‘go for it’ on 4th down. The Eagles defense once more stopped the play and took over on downs but the drama of the one-point game was not over.
Gabrielino punted the ball, with 3:52 left, back to the Vikings for a final drive. The battle began at their own 33 and after two long runs by Zamora, the ball was on the 13 yard line with just 2:33 on the clock. On a rush up the middle, Linebacker Lorenzo Mena stripped the ball from Zamora, recovered it and the win was secure.
Vikings Zamora ended the game with 200 yards rushing and Ignacio Castanada pitched in with 101 more. The Eagles leading rusher was Perini with 58 yards, Bryan Vargas was Winchell’s favorite target with 6 catches. Vikings Coach Wilson was “pleased with the way our team battled”, but disappointed with the fumble so late in the game. Victorious Coach Harold Sanin was proud of the “growth of his players” as they had fought through injuries and plenty of “mental mistakes:” throughout the year, however, it was “nice to get a victory to close out the season”.
The Eagles ended the year with a 4-6 record, the Vikings 3-7.
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