By Nick DeCicco
FAIRFIELD — With the visiting team yards away from a game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter Friday night at Coach Ed Hopkins Memorial Stadium, host Rodriguez High had an additional challenge – not being able to see how much time was left in the game.
The Mustangs (5-0) stalled two consecutive fourth-quarter drives Friday night by Walnut Creek’s Northgate (2-2) for a 29-21 win to remain undefeated in a game where a malfunction kept the field’s scoreboard dark throughout the contest. The teams relied on officials to relay the play clock in between downs.
The inability to see the remaining time inspired a sense of urgency that Rodriguez head coach Myles King said motivated his players.
“These boys, they’ll never give up,” King said. “No matter what the situation, you’ve got to play hard, you’ve got to grind and you’ve got to continue to fight. That’s what it is.”
While the defense made crucial stops in the final quarter, Rodriguez needed every aspect of its team to secure the victory.
First, it was the offense. Trailing 21-15 near the end of the third quarter, Miles Meadows hit a wide open Jamoryon Johnson for a 27-yard touchdown to give the Mustangs a 22-21 lead they would never relinquish. The passing TD was one of two on the night between Meadows and Johnson.
Then it was the special teams. After a four-and-out by the Broncos, a long punt return by Leroy Bryant put the home team a yard shy of the red zone. Three plays later, Jeremiah Hill grabbed a pass from Meadows, danced around a Northgate defender and stepped over the goal line for the final 29-21 tally. Hill led all receivers with four catches for 96 yards.
With 10 minutes and 30 seconds left to go in the game, it was Rodriguez’s defense’s chance to shine.
A long Northgate drive chewed more than 70 yards and nearly five minutes off of the clock. Despite the Broncos getting as close as the Mustangs’ 2 yard line, it was Gabriel Batres who sacked John Pelletier on 4th-and-goal from the 7 to end Northgate’s drive.
The Broncos would get the ball back one last time, but went four-and-out after Rodriguez’s defense held them off again.
Malik Dawson added 10 points for the Mustangs with a 5-yard touchdown tote, three extra points and a rushing score for a two-point conversion.
Rodriguez opens Monticello Empire League play by hosting Armijo for homecoming on Friday.
JV: Rodriguez 16, Northgate 14 — Jayden Lewis Chandler scored a rushing touchdown and Zack Carvalho caught a game-winning TD pass from Dylan Burke to move the Mustangs’ record to 3-1-1 on the season.