By GERARDO RECINOS
The running joke in the Bulldog locker room at half time Friday night was that at least this time Miramonte spotted them five points, in reference to last year’s 34-14 deficit at the half.
There weren’t many smiling faces when Miramonte came out in the second half and held the ball for the better part of 24 minutes, allowing Alhambra to run only 10 offensive plays, and holding onto the lead crafted at the half. Miramonte went on to win 42-19.
Miramonte’s tall wide receivers and explosive passing attack lead by Tim Tague caused the Bulldogs trouble all night. The junior quarterback threw for three touchdown passes, each to a different receiver, and torched Alhambra defensive backs all night.
“[Sutter] Lindberg is 6-foot-4, and you can only take away so much,” Coach Alan Hern said of the match up problems his secondary faced. “We have a great player on him, but he is eight inches shorter. There isn’t really anything you can do about that.”
Although senior running back Clayton Stehr scored three touchdowns on the night, Alhambra’s defensive line played their best game of the season. Stehr’s two running scores came from one yard out; and of the five possessions the Matadors had in the red zone they could only score twice.
In particular Hern singled out senior Dante Abono, who had a pair of sacks, and was a menace off the ball, getting into the backfield on numerous occasions. Abono’s play made up for the loss of another lineman who has had a solid season, Alex Contreras. The senior was carted off the field with a serious injury, but was greeted by chants of his last name by the rowdy and furtive student section.
Miramonte made up for their lack of punch on the goal line with their big play ability, and their ability to stop the run themselves. In the first half the Mats held Alhambra senior tailback Jonathan McCart to only 17 yards on six carries.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Bulldogs though, who made less mistakes on offense. Senior quarterback Zach Elliott hit Josh Abraham on a 38-yard seam route play after having another touchdown pass brought back due to a holding penalty.
Even more important than Elliott’s poise was his ability to get back into the ball game after he was injured on a long run, and ruled to have fumbled the football.
In Elliott’s absenc, back up Damon Blalock hit junior receiver Jackson Norried for a 65-yard touchdown pass on a quick slant on fourth down to keep Alhambra alive.
Norried, who matched last week’s performance with another two-touchdown game, hauled in another touchdown grab, this time from Elliott, from 14 yards out.
The Bulldogs simply didn’t see much of the ball from that point forward.
“Offensively, they have key weapons, because they have Lindberg and Anderson and a good running back,” Hern said. “We can’t say we’re going to take away the pass, because they have a good running back, and the line is quick and athletic.”
Looking to next week, the Bulldogs will take on Acalanes, who likes to play a smash mouth style game, which the Bulldog coach says will work to his team’s favor.
“I don’t think people can come out and pound us on the ground, so they’re going to have to throw the ball to move it effectively,” Hern said. “But they’re not as explosive as these guys [Miramonte].”
The Bulldogs fall to 3-2 overall, and 0-1 in Diablo Foothill Athletic League play.