Casa Grande couldn’t contain Montgomery’s passing attack early and failed to slow the Vikings’ run game throughout their home opener. The Gauchos allowed 28 points before their offense got on the board and lost 35-7 Friday.
“We’re not a good football team right now,” Gauchos coach Denis Brunk said. “It’s a great group of young men, but they have to figure out blocking and tackling. Until they figure that out, we’ll continue to lose.”
The Vikings amassed 499 yards in total offense, and 297 of those yards came on the ground. Kham Perkins had 137 yards on 13 carries, including a 76-yard touchdown romp in the third quarter.
Casa Grande finished with just 192 yards from scrimmage. The lone bright spot for the Gauchos, apart from a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from QB Jadon Bosarge to Cole Shimek, was wide receiver Dominic Mchale’s 70-yard kickoff return. The Gauchos failed to turn Mchale’s third quarter effort into points, however, and that wasn’t the only time the offense stalled in the red zone.
Casa Grande had the game’s first possession and went three and out, almost turning the ball over on a high snap to the punter. Montgomery went deep on their first third-down chance of the evening and connected. Quarterback Cole Hallin found B.J. Johnson for a 54-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead.
The Gauchos failed to move the ball their second drive of the game as well but forced a Montgomery punt on the ensuing possession. Faced with 4th and 2 near midfield, the Gauchos rolled the dice and came up empty as Bosarge was sacked. The Gauchos were 2-6 on fourth down on the evening.
Hallin tossed a 53-yard score to Devin Ramirez after the turnover on downs, and Casa Grande was in a 14-point hole in the first quarter. The Vikings relied on the running game the rest of the way to keep the Gauchos at a distance.
Still, Casa Grande had a chance to tighten the score near the end of the half, but they missed on two straight pass plays from the Montgomery 11-yard line. The drive was helped along by Viking miscues — they had 14 penalties for 115 yards.
More effective running by the Vikings culminated in a one-yard touchdown tote by Hallin in the third quarter, setting up Mchale’s return to Montgomery’s 17-yard line. Once again, the Gauchos missed connections on two pass plays to end their red zone opportunity. The score still sat at 21-0.
But a nice pass-break-up by Casa Grande’s Zac Register forced another Viking punt. The Gauchos drove to the Montgomery 12-yard line, aided by tough running from Julian Gaona and more penalties on the visitors. The Gauchos’ offense stalled, and Brunk opted this time for a field goal try by Ian McKissick. The 29-yard attempt fell just short.
Practical hopes for Gauchos fans came to an end as the third quarter buzzer sounded — Perkins ran 76 yards for a touchdown as time expired. It was 3rd and 6 play for the Vikings, and Casa Grande blitzed right by the runner and couldn’t catch up until he was in the end zone.
The Gauchos didn’t give up though and scored after a 65-yard drive. Bosarge evaded the defense for a new set of downs on a 3rd and 11 play and finished the march with his nine-yard pass to Shimek.
Down 28-7 with 9:49 left to play, the Gauchos defense allowed another score on a 33-yard run by Montgomery running back Jevon Heard, sealing their fate.
“The defense, we couldn’t hold the edge. Offense, we couldn’t catch footballs. We couldn’t do our assignments on run blocks. We were just a mess,” Brunk said. “On both sides of the ball.”
The Gauchos got off to a 0-6 start a season ago, and Brunk told his team that’s where they’re headed unless they renew their focus. “I challenged them. I said ‘do you want to go 0-10?’ If you want to win some football games, let’s make some changes.”
Changes start in practice, and Brunk plans on teaching his pupils some of the basics.
“Football knowledge,” Brunk said.” [We’ll] try to teach kids more football knowledge. We lack that right now.”