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El Cerrito High Rides Late Touchdown to Victory, 23-17 Over Alameda

BY FERNANDO GALLO//

After a seesaw battle all night, El Cerrito High emerged victorious on a late touchdown for the second consecutive week, beating the Alameda Hornets 23-17 on Oct. 10.

After losing the lead in the fourth quarter, backup quarterback Isaac Goins connected with Kenneth Green for a 77-yard touchdown pass with less than five minutes remaining in the game. The long score put the Gauchos up 20-17. Kicker Jose Fuentes then put up a 49-yard field goal that barely cleared the crossbar and gave the Gauchos a 23-17 lead.

“Tonight they showed their true colors and they were able to maintain their composure and stay in the game, and not give up,” head coach Kenny Kahn said of his team.

A large crowd gathered at El Cerrito High’s campus to witness the homecoming matchup for the 3-3 Gauchos. The Gaucho offense had a hard time getting going in the first half, and the Hornets dominated time of possession before halftime.

<MULTIMEDIA: See a photo slide show of the Gauchos’ game against Alameda here>

Alameda scored on a touchdown run in the first quarter, which El Cerrito answered with a touchdown run of its own at the start of the second quarter. The end of the first half saw a flurry of turnovers, as the two teams combined for two interceptions and a fumbled punt return in the last 3:19 of the half.

Despite the erratic play of both offenses, the game was tied at seven a piece at the break and the El Cerrito defense withstood the large amount of time it stayed on the field.

“We’re a well-conditioned team,” Kahn said. “I was thoroughly impressed with our secondary, as usual.”

The Gauchos suffered a potentially devastating blow when starting quarterback Andre Williams was injured on a scramble in the second quarter. He was relegated to the sideline in the second half and Goins replaced him for the remainder of the game.

“We decided to keep (Williams) out, just in case,” Kahn said. “We put the game in the hands of our backup quarterback, Isaac Goins, and he played a terrific game tonight… he won it for Andre.”

Goins, who normally plays wide receiver and cornerback, played on both sides of the ball during the game and said he was nervous going in for the injured Williams.

“I had to step it up, but great job by the line,” Goins said.

The Gauchos played strong defense in the third quarter, limiting the Hornets to three points. Alameda had a 1st and goal inside the 10-yard line in the third quarter, but the Gauchos came up with a goal-line stand that forced the Hornets to settle for a field goal.

El Cerrito High's defense receives instruction during the Gauchos' game against Alameda. The defense held the Hornets to 10 second-half points.

El Cerrito High's defense receives instruction during the Gauchos' game against Alameda. The defense held the Hornets to 10 second-half points.

“It was a huge stop,” Kahn said. “I want to definitely credit our defensive line.”

El Cerrito was able to retake the lead when it executed a 27-yard screen pass for a touchdown in the waning minutes of the quarter.

The score remained at 14-10 until the Gauchos fumbled a punt return deep in their own territory in the fourth quarter, which the Hornets recovered. The turnover resulted in a 5-yard touchdown run for Alameda that made the score 17-14.

Less than a minute later, Goins completed the go-ahead touchdown pass to Green to take back the lead for good.

“It was a designed curl, but then I ended up rolling out and then my receiver got open,” Goins said. “All I did was throw him the ball.”

With just minutes remaining in the game, the Gauchos faced a critical decision on a fourth down in Alameda territory: Attempt a long field goal to take a 6-point lead, or punt the ball and take their chances on defense. The coaching staff was divided over the options, with offensive coordinator Joe McBride wanting to punt and Kahn leaning towards kicking the field goal. Fuentes repaid Kahn for his confidence by splitting the uprights on a 49-yard try.

“I trust my kicker,” Kahn said. “He’s an amazing kicker, he’s fantastic.”

“(I) kind of disagreed but you know, he’s the head coach – he has the final say, so we went along with the field goal,” McBride said. “After he kicked the field goal, I went up to the coach and I said ‘Good call coach.’ A man always admits when he’s wrong.”

The Gauchos intercepted an Alameda pass with 1:16 remaining to cement their second consecutive league victory.

“Our defense was big, especially on that last drive when we knew that they had to pass,” Goins said. “We came up big and got that interception, and that was the game.”

Alameda drops to 1-5 with the loss, and is 1-1 in Contra Costa Athletic League play after beating Richmond High on Oct. 3.

El Cerrito remains undefeated in league play at 2-0, and its overall record is now 3-3. The Gauchos will next hit the road to face off against Hercules High School on Oct. 17.

<MULTIMEDIA: See a photo slide show of the Gauchos’ game against Alameda here>

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