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The Seguin setback

With 61-14 loss to Matadors, Knights drop third district game, must win out to make state playoffs

Junior+lineman+Alvino+Carbajal+made+an+impact+on+all+three+phases+of+the+game.+In+addition+to+blocking+on+offense+and+tackling+on+defense%2C+he+also+blocked+a+Matador+extra-point+attempt+on+special+teams.+Photo+by+Grace+Nugent.
Junior lineman Alvino Carbajal made an impact on all three phases of the game. In addition to blocking on offense and tackling on defense, he also blocked a Matador extra-point attempt on special teams. Photo by Grace Nugent.

Junior lineman Alvino Carbajal made an impact on all three phases of the game. In addition to blocking on offense and tackling on defense, he also blocked a Matador extra-point attempt on special teams. Photo by Grace Nugent.

Junior lineman Alvino Carbajal made an impact on all three phases of the game. In addition to blocking on offense and tackling on defense, he also blocked a Matador extra-point attempt on special teams. Photo by Grace Nugent.

Gregory James, photo editor

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Seguin, a familiar opponent in its first year in the Knights’ district, stormed House Park Thursday night and thumped McCallum, 61-14. The victory not only avenged defeats to McCallum in the previous two seasons, but it clinched a playoff berth for the undefeated Matadors (5-2, 4-0). The Knights (3-4, 1-3), meanwhile, were pushed back on their heels, needing to win the final three games on their schedule just to make the state playoffs.

The game stands  in sharp contrast to the last meeting between the teams when McCallum beat the Matadors at home, 63-31, in a non-district contest. This time around, the Knights offense had trouble finding consistency. They would start promising drives only to make a mistake would cause the drive to unravel. On the night, they punted seven times.

A SILVER LINING: Deron Gage runs the ball down the field to set up one of the Knights two successful McCallum drives, a 12-pass from Cole Davis to Darius Lewis. Photo by Grace Nugent.

The first of those punts came after the Knights’ opening drive of the game went backwards for three plays. Trinidad de la Garza had to punt from just outside his own end zone, and his punt went straight to Matador punt returner Jordan Parker, who ran laterally and backwards about 15 yards to set up his wall of blockers. He then hit the edge where he found the Matador sideline unguarded and dashed down it to score the game’s first points.

We needed a momentum shift and that was it, a fourth-and-two stop. … It just felt good to come out and execute a game plan.”

— Senior Elijah Griffin

The Knights’ offense struggled throughout the first half to sustain drives. By fumbling once and not consistently getting first downs, the offense did not provide much rest for the defense. The failure to keep the defense off the field, combined with the fact that many Knight players are playing both offense and defense, made it very difficult for the Knights to make adjustments during the game.

Overextended, the Knights’ defense struggled to keep the Matadors out of the end zone. Starting Matador quarterback Anthony Gonzalez completed 16 of 19 passes (an 84 percent completion percentage) for 220 yards and four touchdowns. The Matadors were also able to gain 301 yards on the ground, led by Tavawn Williams’ 107 yards on six carries. In all, four Matador running backs had at least 47 yards rushing.

Despite the fact that the Knights trailed 34-0, they came out at halftime determined not to go down quietly. The Knights’ defense stopped the Matadors’ offense on their opening drive by stopping them four straight plays. A jarring tackle by senior Elijah Griffin on fourth down  gave the Knights the ball in excellent field position to start their opening drive of the half.

Deron Gage leaps up for a long pass by Cole Davis that would fall down incomplete in the Knights 61-14 loss to Seguin. Photo by Ian Clennan.

“It felt great to get a stop going into the second half,” Griffin said. “We needed a momentum shift and that was it, a fourth-and-2 stop. … It just felt good to come out and execute a game plan.”

The play would inspire the Knights’ offense to drive down the field and score the Knights’ opening points on a 12-yard pass from Cole Davis to Darius Lewis to make the score, 34-7. Unfortunately for the Knights, the temporary momentum did not last long as the Matadors scored four more touchdowns before the Knights could answer them. Deron Gage’s fourth-quarter 76-yard rushing touchdown brought the final tally a little closer at 61-14 and accounted for the Knights longest play from scrimmage on the night.

The Knights’ rushing attack had a decent night. Even if you take out Gage’s fourth-quarter run, the team still ran for 129 yards. Jalen Sutton gained 82 of those yards on 19 attempts while quarterback Cole Davis rushed for 47 yards on 11 carries. Both averaged more than four yards a carry. The passing attack that has shown such promise in earlier games was not able to get on track against Seguin. Davis passed for 68 yards completing eight of his 21 attempts for one score.

MOMENTUM SHIFTER: Elijah Griffin tackles a Seguin running back, stopping him short of a first down, and giving the ball back to McCallum. Photo by Lindsey Plotkin.

“What we can do to improve on going forward is practicing a lot harder,” senior Cruz Escobar said. “This past week against Seguin we had to cut down the practices a little bit because of the weather conditions, and I really do think didn’t help us prepare for Seguin. … Our mindset right now is playoffs. … Playoffs for us start now.”

Even thought the Knights lost this game against Seguin, they still have hopes of making the playoffs. To do so, the Knights will have to win the remainder of their games against familiar district opponents Reagan, Crockett and Travis. If the Knights are successful in their efforts they will be the ninth McCallum team to make it to the postseason in the last 10 seasons.

This is a moment of truth for us, so it’s up for you guys to decide. Are we going to dial down or are we going to come back, go to work, and get even better so that we can win these last three games that matter?”

— Head Coach Thomas Gammerdinger

They face Reagan (1-6, 1-3) next Friday, and then face Crockett (2-2, 3-4) the following Thursday. With only a game against Travis (0-7, 0-4) left to end the regular season, the Knights’ game against the Cougars will likely determine the the team’s playoff fate. The Cougars are currently in fourth place and have a one-game edge on the Knights.

“All of our goals are still in front of us,” head coach Thomas Gammerdinger told the team after the game. “This is the playoffs from here on out, we win these next three and we get that last spot in the district. This is a moment of truth for us, so it’s up for you guys to decide. Are we going to dial down or are we going to come back, go to work, and get even better so that we can win these last three games that matter”

The Knights were able to stop the Matador offense for the first drive of the second half. Photo by Grace Nugent.

The Knights defense wrap up a Seguin player in the 61-14 loss for the Knights. Photo by Grace Nugent.

 

 

 

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The Seguin setback