Once the dust settled, the box score was all that was important and your Gulls prevailed in a hard fought 13-8 victory over Taft on Friday night. One word that we use in our program every day is adversity. We constantly talk to our kids about adversity presenting itself not only in football but in life. How we choose to react to that adversity will forever determine the outcome of a game and one's life. Adversity was no stranger on Friday night. After taking possession from the opening kick off and marching down the field in ten plays and scoring it looked like the night would once again go smoothly in Seaside's favor. A fumble, penalty on a score, and botched punt snap would prove otherwise. Adversity came and didn't let up all night. Our players and coaches remained calm throughout and believed in each other and knew that the night would go in our favor.
For much of the game we were able to move the ball effectively on the ground against a much bigger opponent and had Taft on their heels not knowing what was coming next for much of the night. As per our game plan, several of our players touched the ball and made the most out of the opportunities they were presented. Andrew Owens ran with authority picking up tough yards all night and finished our first drive scoring on a sweep to the right. With our backs running down hill we were able to control clock and limit Taft to just a few offensive possessions. Although not the best effort we have seen this year, our offensive line got the job done when it mattered most and had enough gas in the tank late in the fourth quarter to outlast the Tigers.
Our attacking defense turned Taft away from the end zone time and time again. The only time Taft truly posed a threat on an offensive possession near our goal line our defense rang up some pressure and steadily moved them backwards from the goal line. Our defense turned Taft away three separate times on fourth down during the game. It's tough to single out an individual in this group effort but big plays came at the right time from Kyle Hague, Calvin Pollard and Shawn Cobb. In total our defense has had 8 (the TD was only a result of our offense turing the ball over on our own four after a botched punt snap) points scored on them in eight quarters…that is certainly the biggest factor in our success to this point.
The cards were stacked against us in the fourth quarter being down by a point with under five minutes to play. After a kick out of bounds by Taft that gave us the ball on our own 45 yard line our offense went to work and mustered one final push down the field that led us to victory. It would have been easy for our young men to suffocate under the pressure but they are a determined group that played with heart up until the final whistle. Led by a calm Zack Hofmann our offense continued to do what we do best and handed the ball to our full back Calvin Pollard who put the offense on his back behind his offensive line and ran right into the teeth of a tough Tiger defense. We put things together when we needed to most and finished off a six play drive scoring a touchdown to put us ahead. After a failed two point conversion it was the defense's turn to finish off the Tigers. With a bend but don't break approach we gave up some yards but ultimately forced the Tigers to turn over the ball on downs and we were able to knee the ball to run out the clock.
Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers
We were a minus two in the turnover category on the night which doesn't bode well for winning games. Early in the first quarter we missed a great opportunity to go up by two scores after fumbling the ball on the Taft ten yard line. We also snapped the ball over our punter's head at a crucial point in the game. Taft recovered the ball and ran it down to their own four yard line where they scored two plays later and converted a two point conversion. Despite being a misty night there is no excuse for those types of mistakes to occur. They're things we spend a considerable amount of time on in practice and will continue to do so to avoid putting ourselves in those types of positions again.
Penalties continue to plague us at crucial times in the game. A holding call saw one touchdown called back that would of seen us improve our lead to two scores. Instead we were backed up ten yards and turned away from the end zone as we turned the ball over on downs. Additionally, two personal foul face mask calls kept Taft drives alive. There are no excuses for those types of penalties and we will get them fixed. Fortunately it didn't cost us the game, but certainly played a major role in allowing Taft to hang around for most of the game.
We were hit hard with injuries throughout the game. Over the course of the game we lost two starting running backs, a starting linebacker, and a starting Offensive/Defensive lineman. We are are hopeful that these men heal quickly and are back on the field to face a talented and hard nosed Estacada team. Despite the injuries, we had great efforts from some of our reserve players who stepped right into the game and picked up right where our starters left off. Donald Zwhalen, Trenton Shaw, and Justin Ruiz all played a big part in stepping up big time when their number was called.