King City Mustangs receiver Devin Morales (right) fights for yardage in Palma territory on April 3 at Rabobank Stadium. Morales had five receptions in the game to lead the Mustangs receiving corps. (Michael Ramirez/Staff)

KING CITY — Five first-quarter touchdowns gave the host Palma Chieftains a commanding lead in Saturday’s 48-20 victory over the King City Mustangs at Rabobank Stadium.

Three turnovers by the Mustangs contributed to three of the Palma scores. The Mustangs played better in the second half as they scored two touchdowns and allowed one more Chieftain touchdown.

“They (Palma) brought a lot of pressure early in the game,” said King City head coach Mac Villanueva. “We committed a couple of turnovers that made the field shorter. I know we can’t do that again this week when we play Hollister because they are a really good team.”

The Chieftains scored the first points of the game at the 10:37 mark of the first quarter as they recovered a fumble and scored on a seven-yard pass from Luke Rossi to Joey Findley. After forcing the Mustangs to punt, the Chieftains scored a second touchdown with a two-yard touchdown run by Luke Alvarez with 8:14 left in the first quarter.

The lead grew to 21-0 with 5:59 to play in the initial quarter as JT Amaral scored on a six-yard run. The score came after an interception of a pass from Mustang quarterback Jonah Mendez by Josiah Garnica.

The offensive quarter continued for Palma with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Rossi to Paul Rivera and a 21-yard touchdown pass from Rossi to Caesar Aidisert that gave the host team a 35-0 lead.

Mustangs running back Jon Michael Soto (#23) gains yards as Palma’s Kacy Mena (#10) closes in. (Michael Ramirez/Staff)

Palma completed its first half scoring with a five-yard touchdown run by Sean Parra with 5:18 remaining on the clock for a 42-0 Chieftain advantage. The Mustangs fought back with a one-yard touchdown run by Elijah Clavijo and a point after attempt by Camilo Martinez to cut the lead to 42-7.

In the final minutes of the half and Palma driving, linebacker JJ Martinez knocked a Rossi pass into the air and the ball was recovered by Mustang defensive end Mateo Pacheco. The turnover gave the ball to King City.

Mendez then used his legs and arm to move the Mustangs into the red zone. With time running out in the half, Mendez connected with receiver Devin Monrales for a 14-yard touchdown play. The PAT by Martinez ended the half with the score at 42-14, Palma.

“Our defensive team played very well in the third quarter and held Palma to one last touchdown,” Villanueva said. “We told our players to keep playing hard and make some plays happen. Offensively, our receivers did a better job of catching the football as we dropped passes in the first half and Jonah Mendez led us with running ability.”

The Mustangs got on the scoreboard one last time at the 3:39 mark of the fourth quarter as Mendez ran down the Palma sideline for a 35-yard touchdown run. A missed PAT made the final score 48-20.

“It was a tough game against a perennial powerhouse in Palma,” Villanueva said. “We have lots to clean up this week in preparation for our game with Hollister, and if we do that, we can make it an interesting game. This could also be our last game if we do not come up with an opponent for next week. The boys know that, and that will make them practice harder as it could be the last game for our senior players. Hollister is strong, even though they have a 0-2 record. Those losses were against West Catholic teams St. Francis and Bellermine, and both games were close.”

Mendez led the Mustangs in rushing with 134 yards on 15 carries and threw the football for 122 yards on eight completions with two interceptions. Morales finished with 66 receiving yards with five receptions and a touchdown, and Ryland Hindersheid contributed with two receptions for 54 yards.

On the defensive for King City, Sebastian Garcia and Manuel Deniz each had a sack against the Chieftains.

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