Royals WIN!! – First Win Since 2006

An opportunistic defense and a dramatic 32-yard field goal by senior Alvaro Garcia helped San Marcos High win its football season opener and send Valley Stadium into a frenzy Friday night.  With 21 seconds remaining, Garcia, a veteran soccer player participating in his first season of football, booted the go-ahead field goal as the Royals turned away Rio Mesa with a 10-8 non-league victory, prompting students to storm the field and celebrate the first win for San Marcos’ program since defeating Santa Barbara on Week 7 of the 2006 season.

“We are fired up; we’ve pulled together; and we’re not even thinking about what happened last year,” said Royals senior Max Cavalier, who scored his team’s lone touchdown in the third quarter. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Everything else is just history.”

“When we got that ball back at the end, we knew we had to pull through,” Cavalier added. “There was no question that we were going to battle to the end.”

Trailing 8-7, the Royals (1-0) forced two fumbles in the final four minutes of play, with senior defensive back Kirk Renga recovering the ball each time. His second recovery occurred on the Spartans’ 36-yard line with 1:03 remaining in the game. The Spartans (0-1) were penalized for pass interference on the next play, moving the Royals to the 21. Two plays later, Garcia had an opportunity to win the game with a 32-yard attempt.

“I found him on the soccer team,” said Royals head coach Dare Holdren. “And he can handle pressure situations because, in practice, it was going to be (extra) belly-ups for the team unless he made two 45-yarders, and he did. Tonight, he also helped us with a couple of touchbacks on kickoffs.”

Garcia’s field goal capped the scoring for a game that featured two struggling offenses. The Royals mustered a mere 45 total yards in the first half while Rio Mesa managed just 55. But strong efforts from running backs Jordan Kuykendall and Cody Clark helped San Marcos take control early in the third quarter.

The Royals started the second half with a 12-play, 63-yard drive that was capped by a scoring strike from quarterback James Crook to Cavalier, who finished with five receptions for 36 yards. Christian Leon, another first-time football player off the soccer squad, added the extra point to give San Marcos a 7-0 lead with 6:27 left in the third.

“We have over 100 years of coaching experience on this team, so we made some adjustments at halftime that helped us on offense,” Holdren said. “We were making some early-season mistakes. We start 13 juniors, and the execution wasn’t what I’d like it to be, but they’re just going to get better and better.”

Rio Mesa answered quickly. Junior tailback Jamaal Perkins broke free for a 68-yard touchdown run with 5:03 remaining in the quarter. He finished with a game-high 113 yards on 22 carries. The Spartans then faked an extra point faked the extra point as quarterback and PAT holder Chase Perham found Lawrence Garcia in the back of the end zone for the two-point conversion, giving Rio Mesa an 8-7 advantage.

The Spartans’ special teams would opt for trickery throughout the game. They called for three fake punts but each was unsuccessful. (A timeout before the snap allowed San Marcos to thwart one fake-out.)

The final errant fake punt occurred with 7:19 left in the game. The Spartans held the ball at their own 46 and could have pinned the Royals deep in their own territory, but Rio Mesa’s players on the field opted for trick play instead.

“That’s not a call that comes in from the sidelines,” said Rio Mesa coach Bob Gregorchuk. “That’s something the kids are supposed to read at the line of scrimmage. We’re a young team, and we need to learn the importance of field position. If we punt the ball, we pin them back there and let our defense, which was playing hard, take over, then things would end up a lot different.”

San Marcos took over, marched to the Spartans’ 29 and lined up for a 46-yard field goal, but an errant snap resulted in a 17-yard loss and a turnover. Rio Mesa then squandered its opportunity to run out the clock when the Royals’ Parker Carroll forced a fumble that Renga recovered on the Spartans’ 46.

The Royals were denied a first down after four straight run plays, turning the ball over to Rio Mesa once again. But San Marcos’ defense didn’t quit.

“We work on turnover drills every day in practice,” Holdren said, “and Bennie Kirkwood managed to put his helmet on the ball and force a fumble when we needed it. We had guys out there, with under two minutes on the clock, making plays.”

“We’re a young team and we have to work on our execution,” he added, “but you won’t hear me complain about a win, or at least you won’t anymore.”

BOX SCORE

SAN MARCOS 10, RIO MESA 8

Rio Mesa………….0    0    8    0 — 8

San Marcos…….0    0    7    3 — 10

SCORING

Third quarter

SM — Cavalier 10 pass from Crook (Leon kick), 6:27.

RM — Perkins 68 run (L. Garcia pass from Perham), 5:03.

Fourth quarter

SM — Garcia 32 FG, :21.

TEAM TOTALS              RM          SM

First downs………………..7           12

Rushes-yards…….27-125    38-88

Passing yards……………57          67

Comp-Att-Int……5-19-0  9-17-1

Sacks-yards lost……0-00        1-6

Punts-avg………….4-37.5   4-40.5

Fumbles-lost………….3-2        2-1

Penalties-yards    8-70    2-10

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing — RM: Perkins 22-113, Thomas 1-4, Perham 2-2, Alvarez 2-6. SM: Kuykendall 19-54, Clark 14-47, Hernandez 3-3, Crook 1-1, Team 1-(minus 17).

Passing — RM: Perham 5-19-0-57. SM: Crook 009-17-1-67.

Receiving — RM: Spears 3-35, Lopez 2-22. SM: Cavalier 5-36, Nichols 3-26, Patolo 1-5.

Missed Field Goals — RM: 47 (short). SM: 42 (blocked).

Team Records — RM 0-1; SM 1-0.

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