SOLEDAD — A second half implosion by the Soledad Aztecs football team cost them in a 28-27 loss to the visiting North Salinas High Vikings. Soledad led by a 20-0 score but were outscored 28-7 in the second half to fall to 0-2 in Mission Divisional play of the Pacific Coast Athletic League and 0-6 overall.
“Mental mistakes and costly penalties hurt us and cost us the chance for a win,” said Soledad head coach Eric Rodriguez. “In the first half we had three good scores and on defense our blitzing game was keeping North Salinas from getting their offense moving the football. They (Vikings) made some adjustments at halftime on offense and things were not working for us.”
The Aztecs scored their first touchdown of the game on a 17-yard run by Chris Gonzalez and a point after attempt by Rodrigo Ortiz. Late in the opening quarter defensive tackle Jesse Lopez made a fumble recovery and ran the ball to the end zone from 11 yards out. The PAT by Ortiz gave Soledad a 14-0 advantage. In the second quarter the lead stretched to 20-0 as Aztec quarterback Gabriel Florez scored on a 12-yard run. Ortiz missed on the PAT and Soledad took the lead into intermission.
On the second half kickoff the Vikings scored easily when a pooch kick was not fielded by the Aztecs allowing a North High defender to recover the ball and score to cut the lead to 20-7. The Vikings held Soledad to a three and out and scored again to make the score 20-14. In the fourth quarter the Aztecs had a two-score lead at 27-14 with a 28-yard rushing touchdown by Gonzalez.
North Salinas capitalized on good field position and turnovers by the Aztecs to take the lead with two touchdowns and two PATs. Soledad had the ball in the final minutes and tried to get into position for a game-winning field goal attempt but a pass from Florez hit a Viking player on the helmet and fell on the ground to give the ball back to North Salinas and ended the Aztecs' chance for victory.
Florez passed for 160 yards and had a rushing touchdown. Gonzalez had 106 rushing yards on 17 carries, and Angel Olivas had six receptions for 97 yards.
On Saturday the Aztecs will travel to the Monterey Peninsula to play the divisional leading Carmel Padres.