By GERARDO RECINOS
Alhambra’s football team visited a familiar foe on Friday night, knowing full well that their opponent would probably be their toughest test of the entire season.
Miramonte was rolling, they came into, and left the match undefeated after the 57-25 win. So the Bulldogs knew they needed to execute in all aspects of their game plan if they wanted to compete on Sept. 23.
For about one-and-a-half quarters they did just that. The offense marched down the field on it’s first drive. Senior quarterback Daymyn Blalock completed a pair of passes to Spencer Schulhauser and Jeremy Abraham to put the Bulldogs in the red zone.
Even though the drive stalled, the Bulldogs put up points on their first drive for the first time this season when Nicki Rucki nailed her first field goal of the season from 25 yards out.
The first sign of things to come happened on Miramonte’s first drive. Matador signal-caller Tim Tague’s first pass couldn’t connect, and then Bulldog junior captain Tyler Clemons brought down the former all-league quarterback to set up a third down a 22.
That down is famous for teams calling draw plays to get back some positive yardage in preparation to punt, or screen passes in hopes of breaking a big gain. Tague checked down his pass to Peter Stehr, who would be a thorn in the Bulldogs’ side all game, and the running back scampered to a 24-yard gain. Stehr racked up 78 yards on only 10 carries as the Matadors featured back in the running attack.
The Matadors scored when Tague connected with Ethan Fischler on a busted coverage by Alhambra. Fischler went into the end zone untouched.
Surprisingly Alhambra managed to take back the lead when they went 65 yards in 4:26. The positive field position was set up on a solid return by Trent Greene. Daniel Boyd, who didn’t have a productive first drive, got the ball and ran in stride on the second possession for the Dogs.
Gains of five, three and six yards made it so the Mats couldn’t key on the passing game so much, and Blalock used it to his advantage. He connected with Abraham and Schulhauser once each for gains of 12 and 13 yards respectively. Then he got Jackson Norried involved, hitting the senior receiver between the numbers on a slant for 11 yards.
The big play of the drive was a pass interference drawn by Zach Schuler that turned a third and long into a first down in the red zone. Two plays later Blalock slung a pass to Boyd, and the junior tailback lower his helmet and got into the end zone to give Alhambra back the lead.
That lead only lasted 2:24, as Tague connected this time with Will Cassriel from nine yards out.
It crumbled from that point forward. Nico Mariero set the Bulldogs up with good field position again after a 20-yard return. The Bulldogs marched the ball into Bulldog territory, but Blalock’s pass was picked off by Nick Foster (the first of two by the junior) and returned 60 yards for a touchdown. Foster broke at least four tackles before hitting pay dirt. His was the first of four interceptions thrown.
A questionable decision to go for it on fourth down at the Miramonte 46-yard line hurt the Bulldogs in the battle for field position. Although the Mats would punt after that drive, they pinned the Dogs inside their own 10-yard line. The very first play was another interception on a wild throw. Stehr would punch the ball home on the ensuing Matador possession, and once more on the night as the rout was on in full effect.
The Bulldogs managed a pair of scores in garbage time, with Wyatt Hammer in the game at quarterback. Hammer connected with Norried and ran one in on his own, with a safety in-between the two to flatter the scoreline slightly.
But only slightly. The Bulldogs have a bye week to recover before opening Diablo Athletic League play on Oct. 7 on the road against Ygnacio Valley.