GREENFIELD — With a timely stop on a two-point conversion attempt, the Greenfield High Bruins football team held off host Pacific Grove to salvage a 13-13 tie with the Breakers last Wednesday night.
Greenfield was playing in their only game of the season and had just four weeks to prepare for the contest.
On their first drive of the April 14 game, the Bruins took a 6-0 lead at 7:31 of the first quarter with a six-yard touchdown run by running back Anthony Morales. Greenfield missed on the PAT attempt.
Neither team was able to mount a drive the rest of the half as turnovers and penalties cost both teams scoring opportunities.
A defensive highlight for the Bruins was an interception by Danny Pantoja, a first-year football player who had previously been a cross country runner, and the defensive line play from senior Diego Chan and sophomore Nathan Olivas.
“Preparing for the game was tough because we had only a few weeks to practice with pads on,” said Bruins head coach Adam Barcenas. “Many of our players had not played football at the varsity level and the speed of the game caught them by surprise. Pacific Grove made it tough as we wanted to run the ball more and they stuffed the line against us to start the game.”
At the 5:30 mark of the third quarter, the Breakers got on the scoreboard with an eight-yard touchdown run by Rey Avila and took a 7-6 lead.
After the kickoff, Bruins quarterback Leobardo Hernandez made the most of his second-ever varsity start with pass completions to Pantoja for gains of over eight yards. Hernandez also used the running of Morales and Alonzo Barcenas to get closer to the 20-yard line. A reception by Morales was good for 12 yards and earned the Bruins a first down at the Breaker eight.
On the next play, Hernandez called his own number and ran in for a score to give Greenfield a 13-7 advantage after a PAT by senior kicker Jose Chavez with 1:38 left in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Breakers ended a Bruins’ drive by intercepting the football and taking over at their own 34-yard line with 3:13 left to play. A pass from quarterback Cameron Johnson to receiver Spencer Nelson netted 24 yards and a first down at the 49.
Three plays later the Breakers tied the game when receiver Colin Tavares threw an 18-yard pass for a touchdown to Nelson off a pitch from Johnson. Greenfield was called off sides on consecutive plays and the Breakers decided to go for the win and attempt a two-point conversion run. The Bruins stuffed a running play at the line and the game remained tied at 13-13.
Pacific Grove intercepted a pass from Hernandez with 52.3 seconds to play and tried to get a few passes into the end zone. As time ran out, Johnson spiked the ball leaving just 0.5 seconds to play. Johnson threw one more pass for a score but the ball sailed over the receivers’ and defenders’ heads, ending the game.
Sophomore Alonso Barcenas led the Bruins with 70 yards on 13 carries, and Hernandez passed for 141 and scored one touchdown. Pantoja finished with four receptions for 90 yards, and Morales had one rushing touchdown. Eric Hernandez led Greenfield with seven tackles.
“Every one of our players worked hard to be able to play this game,” Coach Barcenas said. “I want to praise our seniors for stepping up, especially Juan Novela, Diego Chan and JD Lopez, who played at receiver and also at linebacker. JD was a first-team All-League player for us last season. I also want to thank our scout team for preparing us for Pacific Grove. We are also thankful to our Athletic Director John Radcliffe for getting us cleared to play and for all the parents that were supportive of their sons.”
Greenfield senior parent Cindy Lopez, the mother of JD Lopez, was pleased that the football team was given the opportunity to play football even if it was just for one game.
“To me, it meant the world to see my son be happy, playing a sport that he loves with his lifelong friends that he has grown up with,” Cindy Lopez said. “This past year has put the smallest things into perspective, to cherish moments that were taken away from us, to be present in the memories for our children because what else do we live for? I am truly thankful for the coaches and administration who put this one last game on for our boys and to come together as a community to support them.”