San Ramon Valley was staring down the barrel of a grueling finish to the regular season, needing one win in its final four games after falling to Foothill in its EBAL-Mountain opener last week, in order to qualify for the North Coast Section Division 1 playoffs.
The Wolves (5-2, 1-1) got that win in the first game possible after the defeat to the Falcons, building a 16-point lead at halftime on the road against Clayton Valley (4-3, 0-2) before holding on for the 23-16 victory, sending the Ugly Eagles to their second straight defeat.
“We played big on the defensive front all night long,” said San Ramon Valley coach Aaron Becker. “We also ran the ball better than we have all year. The kids just came in with an attitude to get it done, and they did just that.”
After coming into the game with just three touchdowns on the ground in the first six weeks, senior Jacob Himan reached the end zone twice for the Wolves, while quarterback Jack Quigley connected with tight end JP Murphy for another key score. Murphy had three big catches in the game, including two first-down conversions.
“Our offensive line really had a great night, and so did Jacob running the ball,” Becker added. “Last week really opened our eyes and woke us up a bit.”
San Ramon Valley built a 16-0 lead after two quarters, but Clayton Valley adjusted and began to move the ball in the second half. The Ugly Eagles cut the lead in half, but SRV pushed it back to 23-8 to get some breathing room and force Clayton Valley to throw the ball more than usual. Late in the game, with Clayton looking for the game-tying score, Cole Mortensen came up with a clutch interception for the Wolves’ defense.
“Our kids had just enough in them,” Becker said. “They hit some big plays in the second half, but we were able to hold on.”
The importance of the game was not lost on the San Ramon Valley players.
"This was a big win for our team, and we knew we had to come out and score quick for a chance to win. Everyone seemed to be counting us out (after last week). But our offensive and defensive lines both played very well and allowed us to run the ball and stop their run," said SRV senior Jered Kenny. "They made some adjustments (at halftime) and came out with some big throws to bring the game close, but we were able to hold them off in the end."
Clayton Valley now finds itself in the situation of needing one more win in order to qualify for the post-season. The Ugly Eagles face Foothill next week, followed by Monte Vista and De La Salle. San Ramon Valley heads to De La Salle next Friday.
Castro Valley pulls out overtime victory
After a scoreless first half in which Castro Valley could have lamented missed opportunities, the Trojans found themselves staring at 14-point deficit in the third quarter against visiting Berkeley. But Castro Valley thrilled its Homecoming crowd by rallying the tie the game in regulation and then emerging with a thrilling 21-20 overtime win in WACC-Foothill action for both teams.
“Our kids kept fighting and kept believing,” said Castro Valley coach Denny Molzen. “This is the biggest win in the program since I have been here.”
Backup quarterback Bobby Selba rallied the Trojans after they fell behind, connecting with Victor Rivera for a touchdown pass to cut the deficit to seven points. After the defense came up with a big stop, Castro Valley leaned on big Marcus Miller and the right side of the offensive line, running that way every play until sophomore Zach Sandoval was in the end zone and the game was tied at 14.
Berkeley (2-5, 0-2) scored first in overtime, on a fourth-and-15 pass play, but the Yellowjackets’ pass attempt for a two-point conversion was batted down. Castro Valley (3-4, 1-1) then ran four straight run plays to the right side, culminating with a touchdown for Mike Lewis. When Griffin Hastings placed the extra-point between the uprights, the Trojans were victorious, sparking a celebration from the student section that rushed the field.
Castro Valley plays at league leading San Leandro next week, after the Pirates knocked off Bishop O’Dowd on Friday, 23-10. Berkeley hosts Encinal, who beat Piedmont on Friday to stay tied with San Leandro atop the league standings.
Miramonte keeps playoff hopes alive
With the bulk of its league schedule ahead, Miramonte needed a win over Alhambra to keep its post-season hopes alive and well. The Matadors did just that, scoring the final 21 points of the night to post a convincing 42-14 victory.
Matt Meredith and Reed Callister hooked up three times during the game, while Meredith added touchdown passes to Tanner Zwahlen, Aiden Browne and Jameson Braitberg in another big performance for the signal-caller who completed 17-of-23 passes for 294 while rushing for 107 more.
Miramonte (4-3, 1-1 DAL-Foothill) plays at Millenium-Tracy in a non-league game next Saturday, while Alhambra (4-3, 0-2) plays at unbeaten Las Lomas.
Northgate blanks Berean Christian
Owen Pulver and Jonathan Campbell scored two touchdowns each as Northgate blanked Berean Christian, 41-0, in DAL-Valley action.
Campbell scored twice on the ground, while Pulver scored once on a punt return and again on a seam route down the hash to haul in a scoring pass from Jackson Malakoff. Max Berrien opened the scoring with a touchdown run, while Eric Prough added a touchdown catch from Malakoff. Northgate scored all of its points in the first three quarters of play.
The Broncos (5-2, 3-1) are at Ygnacio Valley next week, while Berean Christian (0-6, 0-3) seeks its first win at Mt. Diablo.
Around the NCS
Angelo Castellano ran for over 200 yards, including a 90-yard touchdown, to help lead Ygnacio Valley past Concord, 38-16, spoiling the Minutemen’s Homecoming in the process.
A late interception helped Lower Lake hold off Willits, 33-26, in a surprise result in the North Central League. The Wolverines had been unbeaten and tied for first place in the league following last week’s win over St. Helena, and it was their Homecoming game, but the Trojans’ victory now has these two teams tied for second place behind Middletown, who beat St. Helena 20-6 on Friday night.
Mason Frost ran for four more touchdowns, in addition to the six he had last week against El Molino, as Santa Rosa pulled away from Montgomery for the 55-35 victory. Andre Duvall added a pair of second-half scoring runs and Randy Clay took a kickoff 99 yards to the house to punctuate the win.
Encinal improved to 6-1 with a 26-0 win over Piedmont. All six of the Jets’ victories are by shutout, and they will look to keep that streak alive next week against Berkeley.
De Anza continued to show that it is the class of the TCAL-Stone, routing Richmond, 57-0. The Dons have allowed just 14 points in the last month.
Bethel-Vallejo bounced back from a loss to Pinole Valley by routing Albany, 39-6. Samari White and Devaughn Jackson each ran for a pair of touchdowns in the win. The Jaguars remain one game behind De Anza in the Stone Division standings.
Washington-Fremont overcame a 21-point first quarter deficit, scoring twice in the final five minutes of the game to topple Newark Memorial, 28-24. An interception return for a touchdown in the last four minutes of the game provided the difference as the Huskies won their second straight game to even their record in MVAL play. Both teams are now two games behind James Logan and Moreau Catholic in the league standings.