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November 26, 2021

Football | King City falls short against Pacific Grove, ends playoff hopes

KING CITY — Last Thursday the King City Mustangs had an opportunity to punch their ticket to the Central Coast Section playoffs for the first time since 2006, but the team missed on a two-point conversion to tie the game against the Pacific Grove Breakers, who won 27-25. 

Since 2000, King City has only made the playoffs once in football, while Soledad, Greenfield and Gonzales have made multiple trips.

Once the Scotts Valley Falcons beat Pacific Grove to capture the Pacific Coast Athletic League’s Cypress Division title, it left only one more spot for a team to automatically qualify for the playoffs. The last two teams battling for the final playoff spot came down to King City vs. Pacific Grove in their season finale.

The game started off great for the Mustangs, scoring first when quarterback Jjey Martinez escaped the defense for a 10-yard run into the end. Martinez’s touchdown was only the second time the Mustangs’ offense scored in the first quarter all season.

The Mustangs’ defense held Pacific Grove to zero points in the first quarter, but the Breakers scored twice in the second quarter to take a 14-7 lead into halftime. It was only the second time all season the Mustangs would trail at the half.

With the Mustangs down, they turned to running back/linebacker Ivan Lizardi, who ran for 143 yards last game. Lizardi got into the end zone, but a missed extra point left them behind by one.

King City’s defense kept the Breakers out of the end zone in the third quarter, but the Mustangs trailed 14-13 in a must-win game. 

The fourth quarter started with a Breaker touchdown, extending the lead to 21-13. The Mustangs had only trailed in the fourth quarter one time this season.

King City responded right back when Lizardi scored his second touchdown of the game and 10th overall this season. The Mustangs went for a two-point conversion to tie the game but failed. The Breakers kept the lead 21-19.

With 2:30 left in the game, the Mustangs decided to go for an onside kick but failed to recover, giving the ball back to the Breakers to run out the clock.

The Mustangs caught two huge breaks when Pacific Grove running back Jacob Booker broke a 65-yard run to increase the lead, 27-19. Had Booker not scored, the Breakers could have run out the clock.

The second break came when Pacific Grove missed an extra point that would have made it a two-possession game, but instead the Mustangs got the ball back with two minutes left in the game.

King City drove down the field to the Pacific Grove 5-yard line with 30 seconds left. Martinez got into the endzone for the second time. The Mustangs had to try for the two-point conversion to tie the game, with the playoffs on the line.

But Pacific Grove’s defense came up with a stop, ending the Mustangs’ playoffs chances. Pacific Grove knocked off the Mustangs, 27-25. 

Martinez finished the season with 16 touchdowns, of which 10 were throwing and six were rushing.

The Mustangs were in the red zone six times in the game and only came away with three touchdowns. In a game that King City could have dominated if they would have converted, left the team distraught afterward.

“This is the worst loss of my career as a coach,” said King City Head Coach Mac Villanueva.

After the game, Villanueva was quoted indicating that he might resign as head football coach. In a follow-up interview, however, Villanueva said he has no plans of resigning.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Villanueva said. “It was taken out of context. I’ll be back next year.”

Jason Gallardo
Jason Gallardo is the sports reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers high school sports for South Monterey County.
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