Falcons put up tough fight against LG, look to bounce back against Homestead

September 24, 2019 — by Kevin Sze and Alex Wang

In a thrilling game with multiple lead changes, gutsy play-calling and high scoring, the Falcons fell to the heavily favored Wildcats 52-38 last Friday at the school’s Benny Pierce Field, which was almost a full house with cheering fans from both schools. The loss gives the Falcons a non-league record of 3-1 as they head into their Homecoming and first El Camino league game against Homestead tonight at 7 p.m.

With what will most likely have been their toughest game out of the way, the Falcons are looking to dominate in league play.

Homestead, which currently holds a respectable 2-2 record, had moved down from the upper league last year. Despite their wins, they have yet to beat a tough opponent this year.

“We feel confident that we will be able to beat Homestead because of how well we played with LG,” said senior wide receiver George Bian, who piled up nine receptions for 149 yards and three touchdowns.

Senior quarterback Payton Stokes had 360 yards through the air with three touchdowns and one interception. He added 52 yards and one touchdown on the ground.

According to defensive coordinator Bret Yeilding, the Falcons are preparing for Homestead similarly to how they prepared for Los Gatos because the Mustangs run the same style of offense.

“We’ll try to do much of the same stuff and see if we can do it better than we did against Los Gatos,” Yeilding said. “For our offense, it’s really just continuing to do what we do, which is attacking by throwing the ball downfield.”

The Falcons knew that the Wildcats were a tough opponent heading into the game. In their three previous games, Los Gatos had pummeled their opponents, winning 44-0 against Oak Grove; 56-21 against Leland; and 35-8 against San Benito. Adding to the momentum for Los Gatos, the Falcons lost 48-7, 49-20 and 49-7 in the past three years; in fact, the last time the Falcons beat the Wildcats was in 2010. 

In the end, the sheer star power of the Wildcats was too much for the Falcons: Highlighting the Wildcats roster were senior offensive lineman Andres Dewerk, a 6-7, 300-pound USC commit, junior linebacker Will Schweitzer, who has offers from schools such as Duke and Cal, and star senior wide receivers Gian Lagemann and Adam Garwood.

However, Bian said that the team prepared for Los Gatos just like any other week. 

“Even though it was more exciting practicing during the week before LG, we still were dedicated to the details like in the past,” Bian said.

The Falcons were able to take an early lead and kept it for much of the first half. Stokes connected on a short 5-yard touchdown pass to Bian to make the score 7-0 following an extra point. The Wildcats swiftly answered with a 42-yard rushing touchdown to tie the score. An inability to stop the run as well as poor tackling hurt the Falcons all game.

Still, the offense kept the pressure on. After marching down the field, Stokes hit Bian with a 12-yard touchdown. The Wildcats responded, showing strength both on the ground and through the air with an 11-yard passing touchdown to Lagemann. The score was 14-14 a minute into the second quarter.

This back-and-forth match continued, as Bian caught a 38-yard touchdown from Stokes to put the Falcons up 21-14, but the Wildcats responded with a Garwood rushing touchdown. This time, though, Los Gatos elected to go for a two-point conversion, and Garwood punched it in.

The Falcons offense stalled in the red zone on the next drive, so they settled for a field goal to lead 24-22. As Los Gatos made their way downfield at the end of the second quarter, the Falcons stopped their Hail Mary attempt, as time ran out. 

However, senior defensive lineman Tyler Ouchida was flagged for a penalty, so the Wildcats received another play. This time, the Falcons secondary let Lagemann slip through as he caught a pass in the endzone. With another two-point conversion, the Wildcats led 30-24 at halftime.

The Falcons regained momentum at the start of the third quarter. On the kickoff, they managed to recover an onside kick, and then make their way downfield for a Stokes rushing touchdown, pulling ahead 31-30. Los Gatos answered with another touchdown and another two-point conversion.

In the fourth quarter, the Falcons offense stalled, as they punted and the Wildcats punched in another touchdown to make the score 45-31. A rushing touchdown by the Falcons’ junior running back Tyler Chaffin brought them within seven, but yet again, Los Gatos scored and extended their lead back to 14, 52-38. With under 3 minutes to go, the Falcons tried to make a comeback, but an interception by Stokes dashed their chances.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, the team managed to escape the battle injury-free and is looking to replicate its high level of play for the rest of the season. 

Said Bian: “Los Gatos is a top-100 team in the state and playing that close of a game gave us the motivation to finish the season strong.” 

On the road against Piedmont Hills on Sept. 13, the Falcons dominated 51-34. Although the offense started off slow, they found their rhythm never trailed after scoring a touchdown at the end of the first quarter to make it 10-7. Stokes ended the night with 23-33 passing with 332 yards and four touchdowns and the team put up 218 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

The high-octane Falcons offense has improved from past years.

Most notably, the Falcons have been able to effectively run the ball this year behind the efforts of Chaffin and senior running back Hayden Cranz, Yeilding said. 

“[The improved run game] really helped us out Friday night against Los Gatos,” Yeilding said, “and it’s going to help us for the rest of the season.”

With such dominant offensive play, the Falcons are in position to be atop the league standings and make a CCS playoff push.

“We hope to win out the rest of the season and to win the championship in CCS this year if everyone on our team stays healthy,” Bian said. “No one we play the rest of this year will be nearly as good as LG was, so we are confident in our ability to make a deep playoff run.”

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