LOS GATOS — Time of possession and yardage gained indicated a one-sided outcome.
But the final score was as close as final scores can get without the game ending in a tie: Grant-Sacramento 22, Los Gatos 21.
The visitors from the San Joaquin Section ran 77 plays from scrimmage and gained 432 yards. Los Gatos ran 34 plays for 230 yards.
“They had some long drives and we couldn’t get off the field,” Los Gatos coach Mark Krail said. “In fairness to our defense, they were out there an awful lot and they gave us everything they had.”
The game came together virtually at the last minute earlier this week, after Los Gatos’ scheduled contest against Live Oak was called off. Not wanting to make a second straight road trip after last week’s dramatic win at Liberty-Brentwood, the Wildcats were able to convince Grant, the 3-AA state champions from last fall, to come to the Bay Area — a decision both teams were content with after the game.
“I have no regrets about taking this game,” Krail said. “None. Sometimes you learn more from a tough loss than an easy win.”
“They were hard-nosed, well-disciplined, very impressive,” Grant coach Carl Reed said of Los Gatos. “To pick up a game like this on short notice against a defending state champion, you have to have a lot of confidence. They played with amazing confidence.”
Both teams scored three touchdowns. The one-point difference in the final score came about from differing approaches to the points after. Los Gatos successfully kicked an extra point three times. Grant went for a two-point conversion after all three of its touchdowns and converted two of them.
Los Gatos (2-1) jumped out to a 14-0 lead and it could have been more. On the first play of the game Jaylen Thomas made an interception and returned it 27 yards to the Grant 8. But Los Gatos was unable to take advantage of the unexpected opportunity. A running play was stopped for no gain and then AJ Minyard’s pass was intercepted by Jeziah Lopa.
After Grant turned the ball over on downs, Los Gatos needed only three plays to go 56 yards. Boxer Kobcsak-Yeung broke a 47-yard run to set up Minyard’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Nicholas Hobson.
An interception by Scott Garwood set up another quick-strike score for the Wildcats, a 56-yard halfback-option pass from Thomas to Garwood.
Grant had come up empty on its first three possessions, but that was soon to change with a time-consuming 11-play,.80-yard drive for a touchdown and two-point conversion.
The Pacers got the ball back later in the second quarter and embarked on a 17-play drive that ended on the Los Gatos 10 as time ran out in the first half.
A fumble recovery set up a short field for the Pacers at the start of the third quarter. They cashed in with a 2-yard touchdown pass and took a 16-14 lead on a run by Leon Martin for the two-point conversion.
Los Gatos immediately responded, going 54 yards in seven plays with Minyard hitting Thomas on a 6-yard TD pass.
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But Grant (3-1), which ran 22 times and passed 22 times in the first half, started going heavy for the run and marched 80 yards for the go-ahead score, a 3-yard run by Martin, who stepped in after starting running back Wayshawn Parker went down with an injury and ended up carrying 35 times for 190 yards.
“I’m really proud,” Krail said. “To hold that team to (22) points is quite an accomplishment. I wish we could’ve scored a few more. We’ve been putting more points on the board but the reason we didn’t tonight is because we didn’t have the ball. They limited the number of snaps we had on offense. But these guys aren’t going to hang their heads. We’re going to get better.”
Kopcsak-Yeung rushed for 72 yards on 12 carries.for Los Gatos. Thomas displayed his triple-threat ability by making an interception, scoring a receiving touchdown and throwing a touchdown pass.
“We’ll definitely be able to capitalize on this loss,” Thomas said. “We’ll cover our mistakes and be able to compare this team to the better teams we’ll see the rest of the season.”