MORAGA, CA – In a crazy and close thrilling game, it ultimately came down to a late fourth down stop against Campolindo from the two-yard line that sealed the deal for Rancho Cotate, as they held on to beat the host Cougars, 33-28, on Friday night.
“The feeling (of this win) was unreal,” Rancho Cotate coach Gehrig Hotaling said.
Campolindo led 28-26 at halftime, as the advertised shootout between two dominant offenses materialized and thrilled fans on both sides. And when Rancho marched for the go-ahead score in the first five minutes of the third quarter, it seemed like the second half was destined for more of the same. The visiting Cougars went 80 yards in 12 plays to start the second half, capped by Jake Simmons hitting Kobi Buckley for the seven-yard touchdown. But both defenses then came up big, forcing turnovers in key situations, and setting things up for the final dramatic stop.
Campolindo quarterback John Torchio came up big on defense, intercepting Simmons with 6:50 remaining, on the Rancho Cotate 26-yard line. From there, Campo drove to the two-yard line, but a fourth-down pass fell incomplete, and Rancho was able to run out the clock.
“It was crazy as advertised.” said Simmons. “The defense really stepped up when we needed it.”
Rancho started out fast early with a touchdown run from Buckley, a pass from Simmons to Cyrus Hernandez for a touchdown, and a 70-yard kickoff return from Logan Reese, putting the visiting Cougars up 19-7 after one quarter. The host Cougars were not able to get a running game against the Rancho defense, as Shun Ishida was only able to get two to three yards per run.
Campolindo, meanwhile, got interceptions from linebacker Grant Larsen and defensive back Ryan Regan, despite the fact that Simmons also completed 25 of 32 passes for 352 yards and three scores. Jaelen Ward led Rancho with 11 catches for 122 yards. The turnovers, though, forced Rancho into a position of relying on its defense late in the game, its first true test after a pair of blowout wins to open the season.
“We knew our defense was good, but to stop them twice like that when our offense was sputtering a bit for the first time this season was incredible.” added Hotaling.
The host Cougars were able to get some offense going in the second quarter after a big 49-yard touchdown pass to from Torchio to Vince Mossotti, and a fumble recovery on the kickoff. The defense also stepped up after Campo defensive back Ryan Regan broke up a pass from Simmons in the end zone. Torchio finished the game with 333 yards and four touchdowns through the air, but the majority of the yards came in the first half.
Rancho Cotate (3-0) travels to Montgomery next Friday night, while Campolindo (2-2) faces Hayward at Chabot College next Friday night as well.
RC-Buckley 2 run (Alfaro kick)
Campo-Ishida 19 Pass from Torchio (Ortman kick)
RC-Reese 70 Kickoff Return (kick failed)
RC-Hernandez 22 Pass from Simmons (pass failed)
Campo-Allen 7 Pass from Torchio (Ortman kick)
RC-Reese 33 Pass from Simmons (Alfaro kick)
Campo-Mossotti 49 Pass from Torchio (Ortman kick)
Campo-Ehrenberger 15 Pass from Torchio (Ortman kick)
RC-Buckley 7 Pass from Simmons (Alfaro kick)