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October 26, 2021

Football | Pirates dash Bruins’ playoff hopes

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Bruins returned home last Friday after four straight road games, but it wasn’t a welcomed homecoming as they lost to the Stevenson Pirates, 43-27.

The Bruins came into the Oct. 8 game relatively healthy for the first time all year, with their offensive line looking well. With the opening-day starting quarterback Eric Andrew Hernandez playing for the second week in a row, but still limited in some capacity, the team seemed excited for being at home again.

Greenfield took that momentum and ran behind the extensive offensive line into the red zone on the game’s first drive. They finished the drive off when Alonso Barcenas scored a touchdown, giving the Bruins an early 7-0 lead.

Both Greenfield and Stevenson were playing to keep playoff hopes alive, both coming into this game with a league record 1-1. According to Central Coast Section playoffs formats, the Pacific Coast Santa Lucia Division only takes one automatic qualifier into the playoffs.

When the Bruins watched film on the Pirates, they knew trying to contain Stevenson’s Evan Johnson would be a challenging task. Johnson is not only the fastest player on his team, but also is faster than everyone in the CCS as the defending 100-meter champion.

But the Bruins were up for the task, forcing the Pirates to punt on their first possession.

With everything going Greenfield’s way, the momentum shifted on their next possession when starting quarterback Cristian Zavala fumbled, giving the ball back to Stevenson.

Stevenson quarterback Kyle McTamaney took advantage of the short field, connecting with Johnson for a 21-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.

On the very next possession, the Bruins continued to hurt themselves as they turned over the ball again. McTamaney connected with Johnson on a screen play that went for a 48-yard touchdown, putting Stevenson up 14-7.

Greenfield’s Julian Untalon played both ways, despite messing up his nose Friday night. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

Greenfield’s Jonathan Anaya helped change the momentum when he returned the ball on the kickoff to Stevenson’s side of the field.

The Bruins took advantage and moved the ball all the way down to the three-yard line. Alex Perea finished the drive and scored his first touchdown on a three-yard run, making it 14-14.

The Greenfield players started flying to the ball and forced Stevenson to punt again. Barcenas then broke 53 yards, taking them down to the two-yard line. On the next play, he ran it into the end zone to take a 20-14 lead over Stevenson after a missed extra point in the second quarter.

After Stevenson turned it over on downs, the Bruins drove the ball to the Pirates’ 34-yard line.

Facing a fourth-down decision with less than a minute remaining in the half, the Bruins had to decide: Do they pin the Stevenson offense down to at least the 20-yard line or go for it to try to increase their lead?

The Bruins ended up turning it over on down, and the fastest player on the field did the rest. McTamaney threw a screen pass to Johnson, who ran for 66 yards to give Stevenson the lead at halftime, 21-20.

Coming into the second half, Greenfield didn’t have an answer for Johnson, as he scored two more times in the third quarter to make it 35-20.

But the Bruins had one last drive to keep their playoff hopes alive. Greenfield leaned on their running game to take them down to the red zone. Zavala took the ball into the end zone to cut the lead, 35-27. This was Zavala’s fifth touchdown of the season.

The Stevenson offense put the Greenfield defense back on its heels and they drove down deep into the Bruins territory. But a big play in the Stevenson backfield by Greenfield defensive tackle Julian Untalon forced a big fourth down.

Stevenson, instead of kicking the field goal, decided to go for it on fourth down. The Pirates put the ball in their best player’s hand, catching the Greenfield defense off guard, as Johnson threw for a touchdown and further increased their lead.

Stevenson won the game, 43-27, ending the Bruins’ hopes for the post season.

Jason Gallardo
Jason Gallardo is the sports reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers high school sports for South Monterey County.

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