SOLEDAD — A fumble in the last five minutes of the game prevented the Soledad Aztec football team from coming home with a victory over the host Gilroy High Mustangs.
The Aztecs held the lead at 13-9, but the fumble and a late score by the Mustangs sealed a 16-13 win for Gilroy.
“We let that game go,” said Soledad head coach Eric Rodriguez. “They (Mustangs), had a few guys back from their championship team but they are basically a new team with a new coach like us. That fumble was just huge and really hurt us. We were able to get the ball back after Gilroy scored but we just ran out of time and when they got the ball back they ran out the clock. It was just a tough way to lose a football game.”
The Mustangs took a 7-0 lead at the 5:44 mark of the first quarter with a 15-yard touchdown run by quarterback Brendan Doyle and a point after attempt by Sam Zamaripa.
At the start of the second quarter Gilroy scored two points on a safety
The Aztecs did not get on the scoreboard until the 9:55 mark of the fourth quarter when quarterback Gabriel Florez threw a six-yard strike to Angel Olivas to cut the Mustang lead to 9-7 after a successful point after attempt by Rodrigo Ortiz.
After putting on a defensive stop on Gilroy the Aztecs had the ball with under five minutes to play in the contest. Florez then connected again with Olivas who was able to score a 37-yard touchdown. On the PAT, Olivas was in at holder and had trouble on a bad snap resulting in a failed kick and Soledad holding a four-point lead at 13-9.
After the kickoff the Aztec defensive unit made some stops and forced a three and out. Just a few minutes later the untimely fumble by Florez gave the ball back to the Mustangs just yards from the 20 yard line of the Aztecs. Doyle then moved his team for positive yards and on few plays and scored the game winner on a 13-yard rushing play.
The second PAT by Zamaripa gave Gilroy the lead at 15-13 with under two minutes to play. The Mustangs then made the final stop on Soledad and took a knee for the victory.
The Aztecs finished with 70 rushing yards and 185 passing yards for a total offensive showing of 255 yards. Florez passed for 185 yards with an 11 of 30 passing night and threw three interceptions. Christopher Gonzales led Soledad in rushing with 49 yards on 17 carries.
On Friday night in Soledad the Aztecs (0-2) will face the 2-0 Gonzales Spartans in the annual rivalry game.
“You can throw the records out the window because this is a rivalry game,” said Coach Rodriguez. “Gonzales is a good well balanced team. We have to run the ball well and find some open receivers to make it a good game.”