by Andy Villanueva
Gabrielino squandered a golden opportunity late in the first half and subsequently paid for their mistake as Rio Hondo Prep battled from eight points down in the second half to notch a 20-16 victory over its Northwest Division opponent.
The Kares comeback was completed on a naked bootleg by quarterback Michael Cuda on 4th and 1 at their 31-yard line. Cuda managed to elude the cornerback and ran down the sideline for the go-ahead score with 3:56 remaining in the game.
Elijah Peters and the Eagles had one last opportunity to rally but Rio Hondo’s Victor Tsogt caught a tipped pass and secured the victory for the Kares with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
***Gabrielino’s opportunity to put a final nail into the Rio Hondo’s hopes for a comeback came with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. Uziel Felix recovered a Kares fumble to set the Eagles up at the 15-yard line. Four plays later, Peters errantly threw the ball into the back of the end zone and Cuda intercepted it. Gabrielino was up 16-8 at that moment.
***The Eagles will have to work on their center to holder exchange this week. On both extra points, Gabrielino turned a routine PAT into an adventure that resulted in a run for 2-points and a pass for 2-points.
***In total for both sides there was a total of five punts in the game. The Kares were five of eight on fourth down conversions. The Eagles were zero for three.
***Peters finished the night 13-of-27 for 124 yards passing with one touchdown and two interceptions. He also rushed for 105 yards and a one-yard score.
***Felix had two sacks and fumble recovery for Gabrielino, along with a team high five catches for 54 yards.
***Gio Perez quietly amassed 215 yards on 34 carries and two touchdowns. Quietly due to the fact that it wasn’t until the middle of the fourth quarter that it was realized he went over the 200 mark.
***Kares rushing attack was sweep right, sweep left, and power. Which made the following comment from a fellow spectator so prophetic prior to Cuda’s game-winning run. “So when do you think they will exploit all those sweeps?” On Cuda’s run, he need to just out maneuver two Eagles defenders as the remaining players were all bit on a sweep left fake.
***Rio Hondo Prep’s total offense amassed 349 yards rushing, while they attempted just five passes all night. Along with Perez, Cuda ran for 64 yards and Domenico Chico ran for 68 yards.
***Stat of the night: First Downs – Rio Hondo Prep 22 Gabrielino 12
***The Kares only suited up 20 players.