It’s amazing what can happen when a football team stops stubbing their own toes.
After consecutive losses to open Southwest Yosemite League play, Garces came out and played the cleanest game of the season in a 41-3 win at Centennial on Friday night.
The Rams had just one penalty before halftime and turned the ball over just once, in the waining moments during the fourth quarter with the mercy rule enforced.
“I am just so proud of these guys and the staff for never losing focus and believing in the process,” Garces coach Paul Golla said.
The lone penalty in the first half came on a holding call. Two plays later, Joseph Campbell completed a 31-yard pass to Jack Hatten, setting up a 5-yard touchdown run for Campbell on the drive.
“It’s definitely a good feeling,” Campbell said. “We got a good rebound from last week in a very disappointing loss and got a good win this week.”
The win snapped a two-game losing streak, which included a home loss to Bakersfield High.
For the fourth consecutive game, Garces scored on the opening offensive possession.
Jalen Smith blocked a Centennial punt and recovered the ball at the Golden Hawks 18-yard line.
Three plays later, Smith scored on an 8-yard run to give the Rams a quick 7-0 lead.
While the offense was humming in the first half, the Garces defense limited Centennial to just three points on a field goal that cut the lead to 14-3 after Campbell’s scoring run.
“That’s all we talked about at practice is limiting our penalties and I think we did that tonight and really improved on it,” Hatten said.
Campbell finished the game with 205 passing yards on 18 of 14 passing and tosses two touchdowns to Isaiah Bell for nine and 19 yards.
“Joe Campbell did such a great job of managing the game tonight,” Golla said. “Just fantastic.”
Hatten led the team with 88 receiving yards on four catches, but it was Bell who led the team with six catches for 57 yards and his first two offensive touchdowns of the season.
“It’s a great feeling to get him involved,” Campbell said. “We’ve been trying the past couple of weeks and we finally got it to him. It’s a good thing.”
After Bell’s first touchdown catch, Justin Eccleston picked off a Max Richey pass and Andrew Wimberly scored to make it a 28-3 Garces lead at the half.
“It was huge. It feels great,” Hatten said. “We followed the process and finally put one together.”
Smith, Marcus Martinez, Logan Bowers and Eccleston led the way defensively for Garces.
The Rams are at home the final two games of the regular season with Liberty next week and senior night on Nov. 1 against Stockdale.
“Both are very tough teams, but the end goal is playoffs,” Campbell said. “We need to play our best there (in the playoffs).”
Garces 41, Centennial 3
G – Smith 8 run (Delis kick)
G – Campbell 3 run (Delis kick)
C – Helton 26 field goal
G – Bell 9 pass from Campbell (Delis kick)
G – Wimberly 2 run (Delis kick)
G – Hatten 16 pass from Cambell (Delis kick)
G – Bell 19 pass from Campbell (kick blocked)
RUSHING: Smith 5-62, Wimberly 7-20, Campbell 5-8, D’Amato 2-2, Ayaonayon 3-8.
PASSING: Campbell 18-24-0-205.
RECEIVING: Marshall 3-29, Bradford 4-19, Hatten 4-88, D’Amato 1-12, Bell 6-57.
W-L: GMHS 3-5, 1-2 SWYL, CHS 3-5, 0-3 SWYL
JV: GMHS 21, CHS 7. F/S: GMHS 41, CHS 19