Casa Grande fell to Maria Carrillo 41-7 Friday in another disappointing night at home. The loss dropped the Gauchos’ record to 0-4 before they hit the Vine Valley Athletic League circuit.
Turnovers and porous run defense did the Gauchos in, as Maria Carrillo had 262 yards rushing out of their misdirection-based offense. Casa Grande had five turnovers — including four interceptions. All of those miscues occurred after Casa pulled to within seven points of the Pumas in the second quarter.
Casa Grande went three and out in its first drive of the game, and Maria Carrillo answered with an excruciatingly long scoring march. They converted two fourth-down plays on the way to a six-yard touchdown run by running back Tyler Van Arden.
The Gauchos yielded another Van Arden score in the first quarter, this time a 20-yard run up the middle. The Pumas led 14-0 just 10 minutes into the game. But Casa Grande’s Dominic Mchale answered with a slick kickoff return that put his team at the Maria Carrillo 40-yard line.
Tough running by Alex Johnson and a first-down catch by wide receiver Nate Busse moved Casa Grande to the Pumas’ 15-yard line. Quarterback Miguel Robertson misfired on third and seven play, but he didn’t miss when coach Denis Brunk decided to go for it on fourth down. Mchale adjusted in the air to beat his defender in the right corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
Trailing just 14-7, Casa Grande stopped Maria Carrillo from scoring again after a long drive. Strong tackling by Jordan Gramajo, Aaron Krupinsky and Jack Green helped to complete a goal-line stand. The Gauchos had the ball again but at their own 1-yard line.
Casa had little trouble getting out from under the shadow of their own goalpost, thanks to a Robertson to Gramajo connection and a 16-yard run by Johnson. Momentum seemed to be shifting.
But then disaster struck the Gauchos. Puma lineman Jackson Petty batted a first down pass from Roberson high into the air and intercepted the ball. Maria Carrillo was in business once again, this time at the Gaucho 24-yard line.
Casa Grande’s defense forced a fourth-and-six try by the visitors, but Van Arden converted. Hard hitting defense by Cole Shimek and Gramajo couldn’t stop Puma QB K.C. Kelly from tossing a third down score on a rollout to the right. Maria Carrillo missed the extra point but led 20-7 with 4:16 left in the half.
Robertson led the Gauchos on another drive–fueled by Johnson and wide receiver Rashad Nixon–and almost closed the scoring gap. A missed connection to Mchale in the end zone and a sack by the Pumas ended the opportunity, however.
To make matters worse, Maria Carrillo connected on a 52-yard touchdown pass with mere seconds remaining in the first half. The Gauchos hit the locker room down 28-7.
But Casa Grande got a chance to put a dent in the Pumas lead to begin the third quarter after a fumble recovery by Jadon Bosarge.
The Gauchos worked the ball down to Maria Carrillo’s 6-yard line but were pushed back by two consecutive QB sacks. Robertson ended up being intercepted in the end zone on a fourth and goal throw from the 15-yard line.
The Pumas needed just two rushing attempts to notch another touchdown, with Van Arden converting on a 67-yard jaunt. Casa trailed 34-7 with 6:48 left in the third quarter.
A try for a touchdown pass from 32-yards out by Robertson resulted in another interception in the end zone. The defense didn’t give up though. Tackles by Shimek, Logan Walsh, Carson Kerrigan and Zach Odetto forced a Puma punt, which was shanked.
Hard running by Matt Herrera helped push Casa to midfield. Robertson connected with Shimek to convert a fourth and long.
The Gauchos drove all the way to the 6-yard line, but their hopes were dashed when Maria Carrillo intercepted the ball on a third-down play, taking it 94-yards for a touchdown. The play ended the scoring for both teams.
The Gauchos assembled on their field after the loss and took accountability for their 0-4 record. They know the majority of the season remains.
“Mostly [we were] just saying that it’s pretty much all on the players and that we just need to come together and figure it out,” Busse said.
They’ll get their next shot on September 14 in Casa Grande’s Vine Valley Athletic League home opener against Justin-Sienna of Napa.
*photo credits: Tony Campbell (campbellsportsphoto.smugmug)