STOCKTON — With every carry from Elk Grove-Monterey Trail, the clock unmercifully ticked the waning moments of St. Mary’s football’s season away.
No. 5 Monterey Trail topped the fourth-seeded Rams 28-21 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I quarterfinal Friday at Sanguinetti Field behind a 50-carry, 292-rushing yard performance.
And for the Mustangs — who feature an old school, run-heavy, “veer” offense — their masterpiece came at the ideal time.
The Mustangs (11-1), up 21-14, held the ball for nearly nine minutes as part of a 15-play, 72-yard touchdown drive.
When Prophet Brown fired a halfback pass touchdown to Antonio Williams for a two-score lead, there was 4:23 remaining.
St. Mary’s (6-5) did strike back quickly.
Senior quarterback Noah May led the Rams downfield with dramatic passes to leaping Jadyn Marshall and Elijah Wood. May capped the drive with an 8-yard TD to Wood, and the Rams were within a touchdown with 2:47 left.
But the Mustangs, true to their form, managed a game-sealing first down run from Caleb Ramseur on the ensuing possession. The senior Ramseur was Monterey Trail’s top option, tallying a game-high 32 carries for 180 yards with a TD.
“Guys get worn out. Guys need a break. That’s the nature of what they do, and they do it really well,” Rams coach Tony Franks said, commending the Mustangs. “They are a championship-caliber program, and we knew that coming in.
″...We needed to be able to overcome that, and we just weren’t able to tonight.”
Monterey Trail is the defending section runner-up after losing to Folsom in last year’s Division I finals. Monterey Trail treks to Folsom for a rematch in the semifinals, after Folsom nipped No. 8 Edison 45-42 in a near-shocker Friday.
St. Mary’s, meanwhile, has lost its playoff opener for the first time since 2013 (at Yuba City) and its first home playoff game since 2012 (Loomis-Del Oro).
“It’s tough for the seniors. There’s never anything about it other than just pure brutal,” said Franks, a three-time section champion who just concluded his 21st season overall coaching the Rams. “You’ve got to (win) the state championship to not end on a loss. You can win section championships, and at some point, it ends.”
May finished 15 of 25 passing for 268 yards, three touchdowns — 7 yards to Nick Murray, 29 yards to Marshall and 8 yards to Wood — and one interception. St. Mary’s struggled to sustain drives with the run, though junior Tyrei Washington did earn 49 yards on 13 carries.
Brown added a 65-yard pick six interception for a touchdown in the first half for Monterey Trail and quarterback Viktor Tominin had a 2-yard keeper TD.
May, who surpassed 4,000 career passing yards Friday, admitted Monterey Trail’s style of play can be hard on an opponent: on both sides of the ball.
“It puts pressure on the ‘O.’ You’ve got to go down and score every single drive,” May said. ”... They’re going to take time off. If they get down into scoring position, it’s going to be tough to stop them down there.”
Murray, a cornerback and wide receiver, echoed his quarterback.
“The veer is probably one of the hardest defenses to stop, especially when they get into it. You can’t take a play off,” Murray said. ”... You have to be head strong. You’ve got to be very aggressive, very physical.
“Three yards to them is like a touchdown.”
St. Mary’s, which had been on a five-game winning streak, captured its sixth consecutive Tri-City Athletic League championship with a win over Lincoln two weeks ago.
“I think we had a good plan” Friday, Franks said. “I think we held up pretty well. They got one touchdown in the first half. We were getting stops and doing pretty well, but it just wasn’t our night.
“It didn’t go our way.”
You can view the original article by clicking HERE