LANCASTER — The miracle the Paraclete football team was looking for at the end of its game Friday night did not appear.
The Spirits were trying to drive the length of the field in 42 seconds with no timeouts and trailing Monterey Trail by eight points.
Paraclete needed a Hail Mary from midfield, but instead was delivered a sack to end the game, as Monterey Trail preserved a 21-13 victory over the Spirits at Antelope Valley College.
“We just made mistakes. I made a few mistakes. Offensive line made a few mistakes,” Paraclete junior quarterback CJ Montes said. “It’s stuff we have to clean up. We have to eliminate those mistakes and just play better as a team overall.
“I feel like we’re almost there. We just need that one little click and we’ll be solid on offense. The defense is playing their game. The offense, we have to pick it up as a team.”
The Paraclete defense stopped Monterey Trail on the 13-yard line with 42 seconds remaining, after the Mustangs had marched 70 yards, taking seven minutes and three seconds off the clock.
Montes completed two passes and a pass interference penalty put the Spirits at the 48-yard line with .9 seconds remaining.
Monterey Trail junior defensive lineman Andrew Perkins recorded the Mustangs’ only sack of the game. The Paraclete offensive line had provided Montes time in the pocket and scrambling throughout the game.
Montes completed 9-of-20 passes for 133 yards and one touchdown, to go with two interceptions.
“They’re a good team. Their only loss last year was to a nationally ranked Folsom and they lost a heartbreaker last week that was kind of a fluke,” Paraclete coach Dean Herrington said. “You can’t not score when you have the ball against defense, which we never see out here. I thought we did a decent job against a defense that played, but we played just absolutely horrendous on offense the first half and second half we had good chances.
“Defensively we had a couple of boneheaded (plays). We had third and 10 and we get beat. That can’t happen, especially a team that doesn’t throw the ball. It would have been fourth and 10 and we’re in good shape.”
Monterey Trail (4-1) took a 21-6 lead with 42 seconds remaining in the third quarter on a 15-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Viktor Timonin to senior Kevin Adams Jr. on third down.
But Paraclete (3-3) was able to immediately answer, as junior running back Amir Bankhead scored on an 80-yard run, getting two key blocks downfield.
“We had a slow start,” said Bankhead, who rushed for 122 yards on 13 carries. “We were just bringing each other down. We weren’t working as a team and that’s where we mess up at. Every game that we lose, we don’t work as a team and we always give games up. We have a lot of work to do, a lot.
“Losing a game like this that we should have won by a lot, it’s difficult, but we have to bounce back from it. Everybody that is starting now is new, so we’re trying to merge and work as a team. We still have a lot of work to do, because there is no reason why we should have lost this game.”
Paraclete carried the momentum over onto defense, recovering a fumble on the Mustangs’ first play.
The Paraclete offense began marching downfield, as Montes connected with senior wide receiver Dawit Wasse for an 18-yard completion.
Bankhead took the Spirits to the 15-yard line with a 7-yard run, but left the game with an ankle injury and never returned.
Bankhead said he was doing well after the game.
“I just rolled up my ankle,” Bankhead said. “I feel good though.”
The Paraclete drive stalled. The drive also featured the Spirits’ first penalty of the game, a holding call, as well as a fumbled snap. Paraclete turned the ball over on downs on fourth and 20, giving Monterey Trail the ball with 7:45 remaining for a drive that would run most of the time off the clock.
“We had that one scoring drive. Amir turned his ankle. That really hurt us, not having him in there for three plays,” Herrington said. “We just have to quit beating ourselves and we could be a pretty good team. Very disappointing.
“It’s the same as the first game, where we played terrible. We had our chances against a really good Notre Dame team. We did bonehead plays. I don’t know what’s with this team, but we’re not smart all the time. It goes on my back. It’s me. I’m in charge. It’s my fault too. I’ve got to figure a way to end that. If a team’s going to beat us, make them beat us. That’s not what we’re doing this year in our losses.”
Paraclete seized momentum in the second half, despite starting the third quarter trailing 14-0.
The Paraclete defense forced the first of two turnovers on the opening drive of the second half and the Paraclete offense capitalized.
Montes threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Carlos Morales, who made a highlight catch diving backwards in the back of the end zone.
The Mustangs scored on their second drive, an epic 18-play, 70-yard drive that was capped with a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Caleb Ramseur, who rushed for 190 yards on 34 carries. The drive took 8:56 off the clock.
Paraclete was almost able to answer on the following possession, but Monterey Trail junior Chris Lands intercepted a pass at the 17-yard line with Montes under pressure.
The Mustangs scored off the turnover, on a 24-yard reverse by junior Prophet Brown, giving Monterey Trail a 14-0 halftime lead.
“I think we’re better than that, in terms of being more consistent,” Monterey Trail coach T.J. Ewing said. “I thought they could have played a lot better than that. They allowed some adversity to creep in. We had a couple of fumbles and guys were lined up wrong. It’s guys that we have to trust, because they are our leaders. Our guys came together at the finish.
“You know, coach Herrington is a great coach. Paraclete, they love offensive football. You don’t want to give that guy the ball too many times, or they will do the thing that they did and strike on you.”
The Mustangs have 12 seniors and beat Paraclete 41-27 last season, as Monterey Trail went on to lose in the CIF-Sac Joaquin Section Division 1 championship game to Folsom, 63-25.
“We’re young, but we’re going to be fine,” Ewing said.
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