Casa Grande remained undefeated as the football season rolls into the second half of play by pressuring five Maria Carrillo fumbles en route to a convincing 37-18 win in Santa Rosa on Friday night.
The turnovers occurred too many times to be considered fortunate for the opportunistic Gauchos. Four of the miscues were converted to touchdowns including a Miles Gardea 46-yard scoring run after catching a Puma bobble in mid air. Gardea wound up with three recoveries on the night.
"We work on forcing turnovers regularly and take great pride in our defense," noted Gaucho coach Trent Herzog, "if you go back and look three of those fumbles were either yanked or punched loose."
Another fumble was forced by the Gaucho defense when linebacker John Porchivina pin wheeled a Carrillo runner and the loose ball was grabbed by Rogelio Brito to set up the Gauchos on the Puma 43 yard line. Casa Grande went on to score again on a nine yard run by quarterback JaJuan Lawson to go ahead 20-6.
Despite the miscues Maria Carrillo was able to move the ball with some consistency throughout the game paced by the passing of quarterback Clayton Poole. Poole hooked up with wide receiver Jordan Rosado on two passes in the early going and the pumped up Pumas actually took an early 6-0 lead before Casa Grande responded with 27 unanswered points.
The Gauchos took the lead for good on their longest drive of the contest on the next series and it took only two plays.
Porchivina broke away from several Carrillo defenders on a quick hitter going to his right side and he scampered 29 yards to help the Gauchos respond with a wake up call.
Lawson slipped through the Puma defense and converted a 33-yard gallop to knot the score at 6-6. Matt Abramo added the first of four successful PAT kicks and Casa Grande grabbed the advantage.
On the first play of the next Carrillo possession the ball squirted loose into the hands of the ball hawking Gardea who rambled into the end zone on a touchdown run before the Puma offensive players could react.
Lawson had a terrific game for Casa Grande by connecting on 12 for 25 for 190 passing yards. He also scored on three runs and tossed to Porchivina on a 44-yard touchdown play in the third quarter.
Herzog was able to empty the bench in the final stanza with junior Brent Eger getting in some valuable snaps. Junior running back Kevin Donohoe also got in some good work and broke a couple of productive runs. Donohoe also scored on a short pass from Lawson after another Gaucho fumble recovery.
Abramo punched in a short 17-yard field goal in the third period for the Gauchos as they improved to 6-0 and 3-0 in the North Bay League. Casa is all alone at the top of the NBL after a Rancho Cotati loss at the hands of once beaten Montgomery.
Poole hooked up with Rosado for 61 yards on the longest play of the game in the second half to put the ball in scoring position for the Pumas. Carrillo went on to score on another Rosado grab to make the count a bit more respectable at 37-18.