However, this year the tables were turned and the Grizzlies cruised to a 41-12 victory over the Spartans and delivered the final dagger to end Strathmore’s post-season hopes.
With the Halloween holiday in full swing, senior night for Granite Hills, a weather report forecasting a 90 percent chance of rain and the playoff hopes of both teams on the line, the pregame buzz was high on Friday at Jacob Rankin Stadium as the “Halloween Bowl” got underway.
As to be expected on a Halloween game, there were some wacky plays on both sides, and both teams came out playing with a high energy level. However, the senior skill position players ended up stepping up for Granite Hills for their last home game at Rankin.
The game got off to a fast start with Strathmore’s offense turning the ball over on the opening drive of the game and giving the Grizzlies great field position. Granite Hills running back Salvador Arellano proceeded to run in a 51-yard touchdown on third and long to give his team the go-ahead score.
Strathmore answered on its next drive with a pass from quarterback Carlos Lopez to Javier Moreno in the backfield that turned into a 75-yard sprint to end zone, and before five minutes had passed in the game there had already been a turnover and two explosive touchdown runs by both teams.
Strathmore took a 12-7 lead early in the second quarter after a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Eduardo Castro and a failed two-point conversion. The Grizzlies answered by unleashing their senior ace back Christopher Martinez, who caught a 46-yard bomb form quarterback Nick Norris to give Granite Hills a 13-12 lead, and followed that up with a 59-yard touchdown run with less than a minute to go before halftime, giving Granite Hills a 20-12 lead.
The Grizzlies’ defense shut out Strathmore in the second half. Senior defensive back Rueben Arrelola was a ball hawk all night long, picking off Lopez twice and returning one interception for a 40-yard touchdown. Baggio Gutierrez got in on the action as well, scoring on a 28-yard touchdown run early in the third.
Then came the wind, which kicked up about halfway through the third quarter, making it nearly impossible for either team to punt or pass the ball effectively. It turns out the forecast for rain was right, and as soon as 9 p.m. rolled around the rain began to come down.
After Norris ran in a three-yard touchdown early in the fourth, and the chance of lightning strikes threatened to stop the game, the refs decided to run the clock without stopping and the Grizzlies went home with the victory and the chance for a guaranteed spot in the playoffs with a win over rival Woodlake next week.
“We came out and did what we had to do, and I’m extremely proud of the performance my team put in,” said Grizzlies’ Coach Marc Salazar. “Our skill-position guys played well, but I think the difference-maker happened in the trenches. Our defensive and offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage all game.”
For Strathmore, Lopez finished the night completing six of 17 pass attempts for 103 yards and a touchdown. Moreno rushed for 70 yards on 10 carries and caught one 75-yard pass for a touchdown.
Offensively for Granite Hills, Norris completed two of two pass attempts for 53 yards and a touchdown. Arellano rushed for 88 yards and touchdown on 10 carries, Gutierrez had 60 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries and Martinez rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown on seven carries and caught a 46-yard pass for a touchdown.
It was senior night for the Grizzlies’ football team, with Martinez, Arreola and Norris stepping up for their team when it mattered. Now they must prepare for a trip to Woodlake and a date with the Tigers, with the season on the line.
Posted: Saturday, November 1, 2014 6:00 am
BY TRENTON LIVELY firstname.lastname@example.org