SEMIPRO FOOTBALL: ’Stormers win 22-21 to climb above .500

Gavilan beats Hartnell 12-7 to claim Dr. T.J. Owens Football
Classic Trophy

Gavilan College scored two touchdowns in the first quarter and held on to defeat the Hartnell Panthers 12-7 in Coast Conference football action Saturday night in Salinas High Stadium.

The win allowed coach John Lango and the Rams to return to the Gavilan campus with the Dr. T.J. Owens Football Classic Trophy, symbolic of victory in the annual showdown between the conference rivals.

“We took advantage of their turnovers more than they did, and we received help from every facet of the game,” Lango said. “Our offense put together an 80-yard scoring drive, we turned a special teams fumble recovery into a touchdown, our kick-off return team gave us good field position and our defense, once again, played extremely well.”

Gavilan will take a 1-3 conference mark into Saturday’s 1 p.m. game against Cabrillo College at Garcia-Elder Sports Complex.

Hartnell found itself down 6-0 within the game’s first 15 seconds. John Escobar’s hard tackle knocked the football loose from the Panther kick-off returner. Gavilan’s Ryan Costa scooped up the ball and rambled 35 yards to paydirt. Gavilan’s two-point PAT bid failed.

The Rams moved to 12-0 with 2:59 left in the first quarter when Cameron Hernandez capped an 80-yard drive by flipping a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide-out Andre Cornell.

Although Gavilan was not able to add to its total, strong running by Chad West and Doug Stewart enabled the offense to mount several drives that kept the Hartnell offense off the field.

The Panthers reached the Ram four-yard stripe in the final minute of the first half. Losses of one and six yards pushed the hosts to the 11 before a 15-yard quarterback sack put the challengers to the 26. Hartnell’s final pass of the half did not reach the goal line.

“We played only five guys on the defensive line all night,” said Lango. “Richard Perez and Luis Padilla were outstanding at the ends and Anthony Salima and Mike Luna plugged up the middle.”

Hartnell was able to score with 5:30 left in the third quarter when the Panthers ended a 22-yard touchdown march with a 17-yard TD toss from Austin Fales to Darrion Griffin.

Fales finished with 231 yards in the air, off a 17-of-21 effort. Hernandez netted 123 yards while going 13-for-30.

Hartnell advanced to the Ram 16-yard line with four minutes to play in the game, only to have two major penalties push the Panthers back to the 41 and an eventual punt.

The Panthers challenged again in the fourth quarter, reaching the Ram six-yard line with 12 seconds to play.

“I called a time-out, switched up coverages and brought a blitz,” said Lango. “Perez came off his block and produced a sack, ending the game.”

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