By Ron Vrooman
(Anza) – The Alhambra Moors traveled 113 miles and found football gold on a mountaintop in Anza, where they defeated the Hamilton Bobcats, 21-6, in a CIF Division 14 quarterfinal game last Friday night.
The victory sent Alhambra into a semifinal matchup against Loara High of Anaheim. The two teams, which are both 6-6, will play at Moor Field this Friday evening.
The long bus ride and Hamilton High’s 4,200-foot elevation apparently didn’t faze the Moors, who built a 14-0 halftime lead and fought the Bobcats to a virtual draw in the second half. Alhambra made the biggest plays to gain the upper hand in what was primarily a grind-it-out game.
Quarterback Michael Gonzalez, who completed five of 12 passes for 87 yards, threw a 61-yard strike to wide receiver Joshua Soto to set up the Moors’ first touchdown late in the opening period. Tailback Luis Sanchez scored from a yard out on the next play to give Alhambra a 7-0 lead.
Later, a 17-yard burst by Sanchez on 4th-and-1 led directly to a 13-yard touchdown run by teammate Erick Baray which put the Moors ahead, 14-0, with 1:13 left until halftime.
Alhambra safety Liam Barajas then made a huge play to keep the Bobcats from scoring just before the break.
On third down at the Alhambra 47, and with seconds to go, Hamilton quarterback Hunter Blackmore completed a long pass to a wide-open Ethan Scott. But Barajas, who started out on the opposite side of the field, raced over to tackle Scott at the Alhambra 7, and time ran out before the Bobcats could get off another play.
After taking the second-half kickoff, the Bobcats drove 75 yards for their only score, which came on a two-yard run by Jamal Robinson. The extra-point attempt was no good.
The Moors responded with a 77-yard drive of their own, scoring on a three-yard run by Sanchez which gave them a 21-6 lead with 2:21 remaining in the third quarter. That touchdown was set up by slot receiver Johnny Thang, who ran for 38 yards on an end-around to give Alhambra a 1st-and-goal at the Hamilton 3.
The Moors’ defense stopped the Bobcats twice in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
First, an 18-play drive by Hamilton ended in a turnover on downs at the Alhambra 11. Then, a fourth-down pass by Blackmore was intercepted by cornerback Trey Ragland at the Moors’ seven-yard line, and Alhambra proceeded to run out the clock.
The Moors got more bang for their buck, despite the fact that they were outgained by the Bobcats, 265 yards to 254 yards. Alhambra got its total yardage in only 38 plays from scrimmage, while Hamilton had the ball for 58 plays—44 of which were runs.
Sanchez was the Moors’ leading ball carrier, rushing 11 times for 69 yards. Robinson led the Bobcats with 19 carries for 99 yards, and Blackmore ran for 95 yards in 19 attempts.
Hamilton High finished its season with a record of 6-5.