Rams rally from 28-point deficit to advance

A small school mounted a big comeback on Friday night, as the Cate 8-man football team stared down a 28-0 second-quarter deficit and surged back to advance to the second round of CIF with a 42-41 win at Victor Valley Christian.

“Our guys never quit, and that’s about as simple as I can put it,” said coach Ben Soto. “A three-hour bus ride, four early turnovers and down 28-0… We easily could have folded tent, but I’m so proud of the whole team for leaving all that they had out on the football field.”

Randy Person scored on a one-yard run with 61 seconds remaining in the game, and Michael McMahon’s ensuing extra point left the defense with a minute to keep the hosts of the board.

“The last 61 seconds seemed to last an hour, and Victor Valley played their hearts out,” said Soto.

The Royals threw up a Hail Mary in a last-ditch attempt to pull ahead but were unsuccessful.

The Rams shot themselves in the hoof right away, as four consecutive possessions led to turnovers and VVC scores. Person finally put Cate on the board at the 7:30 mark in the second quarter, scoring on a 60-yard run to make it 28-7. Max Sabel took a McMahon shuttle pass for a 50-yard TD less than three minutes later to cut the VVC lead to 28-14, but the Royals responded with a kickoff return for a touchdown, leaving Cate in a 34-14 hole at the half.

Person scored the only points of the third quarter on a two-yarder, then did it again after Vladimir Vilsaint recovered an onside kick at the 10:42 make in the fourth to tighten the game at 34-28. VVC scored its final points on a TD that made it 41-28.

Co-Captain Josh Han kept the Rams sideline fired up and into the game, and McMahon threw a 15-yard strike to Person to pull Cate within a touchdown at 41-35. The defense forced a punt, setting up what Soto referred to as “The Drive.”

Coach Juarez Newsome called a shuttle pass to Sabel on 4th-and-3 that went for extra yardage and kept the Rams alive. McMahon scrambled close to the goal line, and Person punched it in.

The Rams host Windward on either Friday or Saturday.

“I hate to single out just a few guys, because this was truly a team victory and one that I’m sure they will never forget,” said Soto.

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