(UPDATED 11:35 p.m.)
Well, well, well.
Turns out the Moors do have a running game.
Daniel Imaa rushed for 178 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead Alhambra High School to a convincing 30-14 win over San Gabriel on Friday night in Almont League play at Moor Field.
The senior running back wasted no time punishing the Matadors’ (4-4, 2-1) defense. The Moors (4-4, 1-2) made it clear they weren’t just ready to establish the run, but able.
Aside from Alhambra’s surprising running prowess, the Moors can thank their stifling defense that kept them in the game.
San Gabriel was out-matched, particularly on defense where the Matadors could not find a way to contain Imaa, among others.
Alhambra’s Mitchell Crockom had a quiet night with three receptions for 64 yards, but two of them hurt the Matadors.
Crockom helped keep a 7-play, 65-yard drive alive with a 31-yard reception from quarterback Darrian Cazarin after Cazarin connected with Erick Esparza on a 26-yard pass that moved the ball into San Gabriel territory.
Ryan Beatty capped that drive with a 30-yard touchdown catch from Cazarin to give the Moors a 10-0 lead heading into the half. Brian Gonzalez connected on a 25-yard field goal with seven minutes left in the second quarter to put Alhambra on the scoreboard.
San Gabriel was left dazed and confused, with its long possessions eventually stopped by a determined Moors defense that shut out the Matadors in the first half.
San Gabriel quarterback Isaac Valdez completed 17 of 27 passes for 133 yards and two interceptions.
The Matadors were led by running back Fabian Amaro, who rushed for 70 yards on 13 carries and scored on runs of 1 and 4 yards.
The Moors picked up right where they left off in the second half. Imaa capped a 7-play drive with a 3-yard run for a touchdown to make it 17-0.
San Gabriel scored on the ensuing kickoff with 3:53 left in the third quarter to make it 17-7, but Alhambra came back on its next possession as Crockom put the Moors ahead, 24-7, with 2:04 left in the third.
Alhambra controlled the line of scrimmage and had two tall cornerbacks (Crockom and Beatty) play a part in containing San Gabriel’s corp of receivers, who were led by Marcos Villalobos’s five catches for 50 yards.
Villalobos was limited because of a dislocated left shoulder suffered with 2:09 left in the third quarter.
It was popped back into place, but he saw little action the rest of the way.
The win helped Alhambra keep its playoff hopes alive as it heads to Bell Gardens next week. The loss was costly for San Gabriel, which next plays at league-leading Schurr.
This Moors team is not the same team it was a few weeks ago. Coach Gil Ruedaflores credited an offensive line, finally free of injuries, for opening holes in the middle of the field for Imaa.
“We finally have a healthy line,” he said. “They’re healthy and they are jelling. This is a big victory for our young men.”
Throughout the season, Ruedaflores said he’d been wanting to implement a ground attack but to no avail.
This time it was different.
A solid ground attack makes Alhambra a true two-dimensional team. That takes the pressure off of Cazarin, who finished the night with 7 completions in 13 attempts for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
San Gabriel coach Keith Jones was impressed, to say the least.
“We didn’t expect this,” he said. “They dominated the offensive and defensive line.”
Friday’s Results with notes and observations
Alhambra 30, San Gabriel 14 — The Moors looked really strong. The coaching staff over at Alhambra finally fed the ball like there was no tomorrow. Daniel Imaa is a big guy. He’s an old school back, getting his yardage with no fancy moves, all muscle. Matadors got outplayed plain and simple.
Muir 32, Crescenta Valley 6 — The Mustangs scored two touchdowns within two minutes to start the game, the first on a lateral pass from Jarron Williams to Reuben Thomas for 66 yards and then Marcus Graves snatched the ball out of a Falcons defender and returned it 48 yards for a score. Muir’s good. Scary good.
Burroughs 56, Arcadia 9 — Well, that showed me. Burroughs was led by Dominique Barnes, the Pacific League’s leading rusher, who rushed for 277 yards on 18 carries and scored five touchdowns. Todd Golper did as much as he could to help the Apaches (4-4, 3-2), rushing for 212 yards on 16 carries and delivering several hard hits on defense. “(Golper) is really something special,” Dimalante said. “He is the pride of our team.” Golper gave the Apaches their only touchdown, a 68-yard dash with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Monrovia 10, La Canada 7 — Who else is surprised by how close this game turned out to be. Good for the Spartans, making this much more interesting than many of us thought it’d be. After a scoreless first half, the Wildcats (6-2, 3-0) scored their only touchdown with a 10-play, 66-yard drive to open the third quarter. Monrovia running back Marquise Williams scored the touchdown, on a 1-yard run. As bad as the Spartans (3-5, 1-2) looked on offense, they still had an opportunity to pick up a big win on the road. With the Wildcats on the Spartans 1-yard line with a chance to put the game away with 49 seconds left, La Caada recovered a fumble by Monrovia quarterback Nick Bueno. Unfortunately for the Spartans, the Wildcats had one big defensive play left in them, too. With the Spartans inching closer to field-goal range, Anthony Cordero intercepted Spartans quarterback Rocky Moore with 26 seconds left to end La Caada’s hopes.
St. Francis 15, St. Paul 14, 2OT — The Golden Knights pulled it off after Justin Sciarra passed to Dietrich Riley for a two-point conversion. The score was tied, 7-7, after the first OT.
Temple City 42, South Pasadena 15 — Max Ruckle rushed for over 200 yards and scored two touchdowns including a 75-yard sprint in the first quarter to give the Rams a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. Temple City scored in the opening kickoff on a Joey Stewart run. South Pasadena’s kickoff returned was fumbled and Ruckled scored again.
Duarte 41, Workman 28 — Jordan Canada had another spectacular game rushing for 270 yards on 15 carries. He scored four touchdowns including on runs of 68 and 65 yards.
Rio Hondo Prep 53, Viewpoint 0 — Tim Esguerra and Jim Davis scored three touchdowns apiece as Rio Hondo Prep rolled to an easy Prep League victory Friday night. The Kares, 2-1 in league and 4-3 overall, scored the first two times they had the ball. On Rio Hondo Prep’s first drive of the game, Esguerra went 21 yards for a touchdown. Esguerra then caught a 9-yard scoring pass from Chris Llamas.
Bell Gardens 46, Keppel 8 — Gotta feel for the Aztecs.
Maranatha 49, Campbell Hall 21– Undefeated Maranartha High School got to host Campbell Hall early and never let up en route to an Alpha League victory Friday afternoon. Tailback Daniel Koppin scored on a 30-yard counter play on the third play of the game. It would account for nearly half of Kopplin’s team-high 79 yards. He also rushed for another TD. But more impressively, playing defensive tackle, he had nine tackles and returned an interception 55 yards for another score. Quarterback Matt Schilz completed 14 of 21 passes for 302 yards and three TDs. He also rushed for a score. Six of those completions went to Terell Cornell, who finished with 137 yards and TD receptions of 55 and 40 yards. The Minutemen, 8-0, led 21-7 after the first quarter and 28-7 at the half.
Mary Star of the Sea 31, La Salle 17 — The Lancers just can’t catch a break. La Salle turned the ball over three times and Mary Star of the Sea put together a second-half rally to win the Camino Real League game Friday night. The Lancers led 9-2 at halftime, but the Stars scored 27 second-half points. They opened the second half with a long drive to tie the game 9-9 and then took advantage of a turnover to go ahead.
Gabrielino at South El Monte, 7 p.m. — ??
Glendale 28, Pasadena 12 — You really want to hear what happened?
Rosemead 42, El Monte 7 — Yawn.
San Marino 42, Blair 0 — Ummm … Yawn.
Marshall at Brentwood, 3:30 p.m. — ??