TEHACHAPI – The first win in the Paul Golla era for Garces football comes with an exclamation point.
On the road in the 48th meeting against Tehachapi on the road, Garces defeated the Warriors 63-0 on Friday night.
The point total is the most for the Rams since beating Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial 63-20 in 2015 and the margin of victory is the most for Garces since beating Shafter 63-0 in 1996.
Jalen Smith led the way offensively with eight carries for 123 yards and four touchdowns and also had a 25-yard catch that set up one of his first-half scores.
The Rams (1-3) defense was busy in the end zone as well with six takeaways and three defensive touchdowns.
“This is really big. This is a momentum swing, I believe,” Smith said. “We are going keep it going and carry on.”
The action for the defense started on the opening possession for Tehacahpi (0-5) as sophomore Logan Bowers recovered a fumble at midfield. The Rams went three-and-out on the next series, which also happened to be the only one of the night for Garces.
On the ensuing series for Tehachapi, the Garces defense recovered another fumble and Garces scored the first first-half touchdown this season as Joseph Campbell found Phillip Bradford for a 13-yard score.
Both teams traded interceptions on the next two drives, including Rams senior Justin Eccleston hauling one in.
Garces then held Tehachapi to a three-and-out capped off by Zach Buckey’s first of two sacks of the night and Smith scored his first touchdown on a 9-yard carry on a drive that was highlighted by Campbell scrambling to his right to find Jack Hatten for a 29-yard pass where Hatten tip-toed inbounds for the catch.
“This is a huge confidence boost,” Smith said. “The offensive line played great. When they do, we keep moving the ball.”
The defense scored on the opening drive of the second quarter as Bradford picked up a fumble and returned it for the score to make it 28-0 with 8:54 left in the first half.
Garces scored three times in the final two minutes before halftime as the offensive line of Ethan Shipp, Aiden Meek, Thomas Lett, JonPaul LeFever and DeAndre Beldo all set up pancake blocks on the same play as Smith rushed into the end zone for a 53-yard score.
After another three-play series resulted in a punt for the Warriors, the Rams needed just two plays as Smith scored from four yards out on his fourth touchdown.
Then, with 31.2 seconds left in the half, Isaiah Bell scored on another Warriors’ fumble to make it a 49-0 halftime lead.
“We just have to keep our heads down and keep going,” Bell said. “We are trying to get to where we need to be. We are just going week-by-week.”
Golla left his starters in on offense for the opening drive of the third quarter as Campbell was 8 of 9 passing for 66 yards, all on quick outs to Bradford, Xavier Marshall and Hatten. Then Campbell scored on a 15-yard run and the starters took a seat on the bench and watched the reserves step up as Eli Garcia scored on pick-six and Andrew Wimberley rushed for 49 yards on the final three carries of the game with a second-half running clock.
Campbell finished the night throwing for 177 yards on 16 of 22 passing and one interception.
Marshall led the team with eight catches for 65 yards.
All three levels for Garces shut out Tehachapi as the F/S team won 41-0 on Thursday and the JV team won 20-0 earlier in the evening on Friday.
Smith’s four touchdowns were one shy of the school record of five last set by Isaiah Martin in 2016.
Peter Delis was successful on all nine of his extra point attempts, just one shy of the single-game school record.
Garces 63, Tehachapi 0
At Coy Burnett Stadium
G – Bradford 21 pass from Campbell (Delis kick)
G – Smith 9 run (Delis kick)
G – Smith 5 run (Delis kick)
G – Bradford fumble recovery (Delis kick)
G – Smith 53 run (Delis kick)
G – Smith 4 run (Delis kick)
G – Bell fumble recovery (Delis kick)
G – Campbell 15 run (Delis kick)
G – Garcia interception return (Delis kick)