American Canyon wins late thriller over Casa Grande – Times-Herald
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
American Canyon High’s football team worked the ground all night, rolling through Casa Grande with 53 rushing touchdowns Friday night.
However, the fans at the Wolf Den Stadium will remember the last two games.
Caleb Anderson’s 6-yard run with 14.9 seconds left in regulation followed by Capona Louie’s two-pointer led the Wolves to a 23-22 victory that kept their playoff hopes alive. American Canyon improved to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the Vine Valley Athletic League.
American Canyon’s game-winning drive came with 5:14 left. It was a moment when Wolves head coach John Montante knew what the outcome would be.
“None. “What we told the team when we got the ball on the last possession with 5:14 left was we’re going to get the ball, we’re going to go down the field, we’re going to score, we’re going to go for two and we’re going to get the W,” said Montante. “And these kids put it together, believed in what they showed, they did it, and I’m so proud of them for making it happen.”
Anderson agreed with his coach.
“Hey, that’s what we’re good at — we run the ball down people’s throats,” Anderson said. “I like being a more physical team.”
While both Anderson (22 carries, 97 yards) and Lue (21 carries, 85 yards) both had solid games, neither claimed the ball after Anderson’s climactic touchdown.
It was all up to Liu now.
“It was our pack, and it just is,” Liu said. “It just has to show that we are a stronger team. I didn’t have to follow a certain blocker, I just had to go straight up the middle. It was amazing. I felt like if I couldn’t go three yards and get into the end zone, I shouldn’t be playing football. It was the best feeling of my life.”
The fact that the Wolves kept the ball on the ground last game was as certain as the wind in Chicago or James Bond getting the girl. In the end, the Wolves started the night with a 19-play drive that included 18 runs – 17 of them coming in a row. The final drive came nearly 10 minutes into the drive, when Liu drove the ball into the end zone from a yard out for a 7-0 lead.
The score remained the same until the second quarter, when Casa Grande quarterback Wyatt Abramson found Spencer Almond for a 13-yard touchdown, followed by a two-point conversion between the same combination for an 8-7 Gaucho lead.
After that, the Wolves went on another long road trip, this time 10 games, eight of which were runs. However, American Canyon turned the ball over on downs and couldn’t score.
In the third quarter, Casa Grande extended its lead to nine with another touchdown and a successful conversion. This time, the score came on a 3-yard run by Abramson, followed by two by Ryder Jacobson.
Trailing by nine entering the fourth quarter, American Canyon continued to drive the ball. An 11-play, 10-run drive ended with Ayani Castillo’s 21-yard touchdown run. Liu’s two-point run made it 16-15.
The Wolves needed a stop, or at least a way to hold the Gauchos to six. Casa Grande scored its final touchdown of the night on a 4-yard pass from Abramson to Lucas Miles that made it 22-15, leaving the door open just enough for the Wolves.
“Everybody kept telling each other it was a drive, it was a drive,” Liu said. “It was necessary to kill, otherwise everything will end. But we persevered. We got close to the 20-yard line and then we passed.”
The Wolves’ last effort consisted of 16 games, 10 of which were runs. The biggest play of that time might have been Anderson’s 12-yard strike to Sean Yumang with 35 seconds left that put the ball on the 25-yard line. Three plays later, Anderson scored a touchdown with 14.9 seconds left.
“We’ve been telling each other all week it’s a big game,” Anderson said. “We had to win or the playoffs probably weren’t an option. But the whole game we felt good. We knew it wasn’t over and lived by the mentality that it wasn’t over until the clock hit double zero.”
James Aken made the final tackle for American Canyon as regulation expired.
Montante said the win was one of the most exciting he’s ever been a part of.
“It’s not the most exciting, but it’s very good,” the coach said with a smile.