Football | Soledad Aztecs beat Greenfield Bruins with last-second field goal

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Soledad Aztecs continued their winning streak against the Greenfield Bruins on Sept. 1, scoring a last-second field goal to win 17-14. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

GREENFIELD — When the Greenfield Bruins hosted Soledad last Thursday, one of the oldest sports cliches, “a tale of two halves,” proved correct when the Aztecs escaped with a 17-14 win on a last-second field goal.

The previous week, the Bruins broke their decade-long losing streak to King City before turning their attention to the Aztecs, who have won the nine matchups between the schools. Soledad was coming off a close loss to the Soquel Knights that they felt they gave away.

With the Aztec-Bruin Helmet on the line, everyone knew that this game would have its moments of trash talk — and that’s what we got.

Coming off a dominating defense showing, Greenfield’s defense picked up where they left off, getting an interception to start the game. Through the first six quarters of football, they forced six turnovers.

For as good as the Bruins defense had been, Soledad quarterback Dominic Chavez was able to give them some headache in the second quarter. Chavez helped the Aztecs break the tie as he rushed for his second rushing touchdown of the season to give them a lead.

Greenfield Bruins are now 1-1 to start the season after losing at home to Soledad. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

In the first half, the Greenfield offense struggled to get things going, as they didn’t put up any points for the second straight first of the season.

Although down seven points with only a couple seconds left in the first half, the Bruins were still in the game. But right before halftime, Soledad backup quarterback Ivan Salcido broke a 45-yard run to give the Aztecs a 14-point lead.

“At first I was looking to keep the drive alive and get a first down,” Salcido said. “There was only one guy in front of me and they blocked him. There was nothing but open field, so I went for the touchdown.”

As both teams left the field for halftime, the Bruins seemed a bit deflated after that play, but to their credit, they came out of halftime and dominated the entire second half.

Greenfield turned up their aggression, running all over the Aztecs in the third quarter. Bruins’ all-league running back Alonso Barcenas got his first touchdown when he broke about a 10-yard run to the endzone to get Greenfield back in the game.

Soledad seemed like they were trying to hang on in the second half, as they struggled to get anything going offensively. A Soledad turnover right after the Bruins scored put the game into jeopardy for the Aztecs.

In the first half, Bruins starting quarterback Cristian Zavala had his struggles, but he was able to keep his head in the game. To tie up the game, Zavala kept the ball and ran it into the end zone, making it 14-14.

Going into the fourth quarter, the Aztecs defense stopped the bleeding as they didn’t allow the Bruins to score another point. Chavez led the effort and had a team high of six tackles.

Soledad Aztecs football players and coaches celebrate on the field after beating the Greenfield Bruins, 17-14, on Sept. 1. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

The game came down to the final minute, as Soledad had the ball to try to win the game. During the drive, there were three big-time plays that the Aztecs converted.

The first was Chavez throwing in across the field to find wide receiver Daniel Raso to continue the drive. Next was running back Francisco Ballesteros picking up a first down on a third and short. And finally, probably the second-most important play of the game, was when Raso started running toward the Greenfield sideline and reversed, running back to the other side of the field to pick up a first down, setting up a field goal attempt with one second remaining.

Salcido, who is also the Soledad kicker, never attempted a field goal in a football game before.

“That was my first game kicking,” Salcido said. “At practice, I made a 55-yard field goal.”

To secure the win for the Aztecs, he would have to kick a 45-yard field goal.

“I was a little nervous at first, but once the timeout was called, we huddled up and I calmed down a little,” Salcido said. “My team was hyping me up, which boosted my confidence, and after that it was just like how we practiced.”

And just like that, Salcido nailed it at the buzzer to win the game, 17-14, and continue Soledad’s triumph over Greenfield.

“That’s my first-ever field goal,” he said. “I’ll never forget it.”

Soledad will host Carmel on Friday, while Greenfield will host St. Francis on Thursday.

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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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