KING CITY — The inability to get into the end zone in the second half cost the King City Mustangs football team any chance they had to stay in the game last Friday against the Rancho Cotate Cougars.
The visitors kept the Mustangs off the scoreboard to earn a 35-0 victory on April 16 at War Memorial Stadium. The Cougars improved to 2-3 for the season and King City finished at 1-3.
King City stopped the first Cougar offensive series of the night, forcing a punt. Mustangs quarterback Jonah Mendez and running backs JJ Martinez and John Michael Soto then gained a pair of first downs on their initial offensive series.
Mendez also connected on a pass to Martinez and primary receiver Devin Morales. After a nine-yard pass play from Mendez to Morales, Cougar linebacker Mihalis Santorineos ended the drive by picking off a pass at the 24-yard line.
Rancho Cotate quarterback Ryan Cane threw two incomplete passes and then earned a first down with a 12-yard pass. The Cougars had to punt the ball after a 15-yard penalty and an incomplete pass.
The Mustangs went on the move on their next possession, gaining yards on the ground by Mendez, but then Morales had the football knocked out of his arms for a fumble after making a reception.
The Cougars then ran off long runs by Dimitre Johnson for first downs and earned yards on the air behind the passing of Cane. On first down from the King City three-yard line, Cane handed the ball to Santorineos who bulled his way for a touchdown. The PAT gave the Cougars a 7-0 lead.
Mendez mixed up the offense on the last King City possession of the first half with long runs of his own and passes to Morales and Martinez. A 25-yard run by Mendez earned him a first down on the Cougar 36-yard line.
With seconds left in the half, a short run for minimal yards and two incomplete pass plays forced the Mustangs to send in Camilo Martinez for a long field goal attempt that fell short. The Cougars then took over and ran out the half.
After more than an hour break to repair the stadium’s lights that shut off unexpectedly during halftime, the game resumed.
King City received the kickoff but runs by Mendez were not enough to earn a first down. The Mustangs seemed to receive a break after a flag was called on a fourth down play, but the dead ball foul occurred after the play was over.
Rancho Cotate then took over on its own 43-yard line. Jack Reese came in at quarterback for the Cougars and called two running plays before the lights turned off again on the home side. After about 10 minutes, all four banks of lights turned back on.
Reese came out energized as he fired a pass to Gianna Gigliello for a 51-yard touchdown play at the 8:34 mark of the third. The Cougars led 14-0 after the PAT.
King City had its best chance to score on the next series as it reached the Cougars’ eight with runs by Mendez and Soto. The drive ended on a fourth down play at the one as Mendez pitched the ball to Elijah Calvijo, who was stuffed at the line.
After a sack on Reese, a helmet-on-contact penalty gave the visitors a first down on the Mustangs’ 46. Reese moved the ball in the air and ended the drive with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Greiner with 1:01 left in the third quarter. The touchdown and PAT pushed the score to 21-0 and sapped the strength of the Mustangs as a fumble set up another score at the 9:56 mark of the fourth on a four-yard run by Johnson.
Rancho Cotate forced King City to punt on the next series and scored their last touchdown on a 55-yard punt return by Sumari Jones for the final 34-0 tally.
“We fumbled the ball five times and were able to recover just two of those fumbles,” said Mustangs head coach Mac Villanueva. “You can’t be doing that against a good team like Rancho Cotate. … We didn’t make the plays when we needed to and they (Cougars) did.”
Villanueva added, “I am very proud of the leadership we received from our seniors during the last four games. Jonah Mendez, John Michael Soto, Trey Salcido, Devin Morales and Juan Acosta kept the rest of the team focused on continuing to play well against some good teams.”
Mendez led the Mustangs in rushing with 21 carries for 139 yards and finished with 177 passing yards and threw one interception, and Soto ran for 36 yards on nine carries. Morales led King City with five receptions for 67 yards, JJ Martinez had three receptions for 43 yards, and Soto caught two passes for 11 yards.