The Garces Rams defense needed a stop.
Three and a half minutes earlier the Rams had been up 31-16 on Centennial, but after a quick Golden Hawks touchdown and a recovered onside kick, Centennial was nearly in the red zone again. The Golden Hawks trailed by eight with more than a minute to go.
D.J. Adams caught his 10th pass of the game and fought his way down to about the 15 before the opportunistic Garces defense came up with a game-changing play again. A group of Rams popped the ball out of Adams’ hands and a Garces came up with the fumble recovery.
It was the third turnover forced by Garces in the fourth quarter. Two interception returns for touchdowns built the Rams’ lead. The fumble recovery preserved it. Thanks to six turnovers (five interceptions and one fumble) Garces topped Centennial, 31-23, at Sam Tobias Field on Friday night.
The Rams improved to 3-5 on the season and 2-1 in Southwest Yosemite League play. Centennial dropped to 5-3 on the year and 1-2 in league.
Garces kicker Peter Delis made a 36-yard field goal on the second play of the fourth quarter, which gave the Rams a 17-16 lead. But the next time he stepped up to kick, Delis’ 35-yard field goal with about five minutes left sailed wide.
When the Golden Hawks took over on offense, Rams defensive lineman Kaden Uribe drove into the backfield and leapt into the air. Uribe basically took Centennial quarterback Kyle Connelly’s pass right out of the quarterback’s hands. Uribe rumbled 30 yards for the touchdown.
On the next play from scrimmage, Garces’ Isaiah Bell jumped in front of a Connelly pass and raced 40 yards for the score. All of a sudden, the Rams had a 31-16 lead with four minutes left.
But the game wasn’t over.
Connelly scrambled for a 36-yard gain. A 24-yard touchdown pass to Adams was called back because of an illegal shift. Connelly found Adams again on third down, then Adams made a diving catch at the pylon. The official paused before signalling the score. Centennial cut it to 31-23 with 2:35 left.
The Golden Hawks didn’t obviously line up for the onside kick with two timeouts still in their pockets, but the kicker nudged the ball forward. It bounced past a few Rams and Centennial came up with the ball.
Centennial managed to get inside the red zone before Garces forced the game-sealing fumble.