Casa Grande High School's varsity football Gauchos were able to build up enough equity through two strong quarters to survive a downturn in the second half on their way to a 30-12 victory over Montgomery's Vikings Friday night in a match of the Redwood Empire's only two unbeaten large schools.
Casa Grande won its fourth straight game without a loss because Montgomery could neither contain nor catch turbo-charged quarterback JaJuan Lawson in the first half and because junior kicker Matt Abramo could possibly boot a ball into outer space if their were goal posts in the stratosphere.
Lawson gained 183 yards on just eight carries and scored two touchdowns running and one passing in the first half as the Gauchos battled to a 24-6 lead. Soundly in front, Casa Grande seldom called on the senior to run in the second half, and used his talents even more sparingly after he was dinged up a bit in the third quarter.
Abramo kicked three field goals, one a 41-yarder, four PATs and routinely kicked off into the end zone, forcing Montgomery to face long drives all night.
Of course, there were other factors in the Casa Grande win — factors like workhorse running back John Porchivina battling through a swarming Montgomery defense to eat up yards and time in the second half and continually keeping Casa drives alive with key first-down runs. And things like a swarming Casa Grande defense that all but negated Montgomery's outstanding team speed.
Linebacker Casey Longaker intercepted Montgomery quarterback Elija Higgs' second pass of the game and the Gauchos quickly struck on a 14-yard Lawson to Miles Gardea pitch and catch. On the first play of the Gauchos' second possession, Lawson slipped outside and out ran the world for an 87-yard touchdown. Before the half had ended, he had scored again on a 29-yard burst and Abramo had booted a 34-yard field goal.
Montgomery did have one hurrah in a Gaucho-dominated half, scoring when the Vikings' own speedster, Etienne Ezeff ran by the Gaucho defender and grabbed a 63-yard scoring pass from backup quarterback RJ Flores, in the game because starter Higgs had suffered what looked to be a shoulder separation early in the second quarter.
The second half had a whole different look and feel than the Gaucho-dominated first half. The Gauchos went conservatively to the ground game with Porchivina, and, late, Daniel Giesen doing the heavy lifting, The Vikings not only corralled, but harassed Lawson, preventing any further lightning from No. 17.
The good news for the large contingent of Casa Grande rooters was that the Casa defense remained solid, limiting the Viking damage to one short Montgomery touchdown drive of 37 yards, scored by hard-laboring Logan Francavilla.
Casa's second half scoring came on two Abramo field goals, the 41-yarder and another of 22 yards.
For complete game story, see Thursday's Argus-Courier.