CASTROVILLE — How would Monte Vista Christian respond after having last week’s season opener canceled? Would the Mustangs show some rust? Would they show some opening-week jitters?
The Mustangs answered those questions with a big 40-21 statement victory over North Monterey County on Friday in non-league play.
M.V.C. was playing in its first game of the season after last week’s matchup against Ann Sobrato at home was canceled. Senior Quinn Alexander said the team was more than ready, especially after not being able to play its Senior Night game in week 1.
“I think it just fueled us more and we were just hungry to come out and finally play against another team that’s not wearing whites in practice,” Alexander said. “And just being under the lights, having our crowd...I think we had to come out here and get a win and that’s what we did.”
Alexander finished with 126 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns to help the Mustangs defeat the Condors. The team racked up 257 total rushing yards on 44 carries.
M.V.C. senior quarterback Nathan Renggli threw the ball just six times, completing 2-of-6 pass attempts for 51 yards and a touchdown.
Renggli said it was heartbreaking not being able to play in last week’s Senior Night but at the end of the day the team had to move forward.
“We weren’t going to let it ruin our season,” he said. “The biggest thing tonight was just coming out hungry and that’s what we did all night.”
Renggli said he was impressed with the big boys upfront, which was an essential factor in Friday night’s win.
“We finally saw some really good blocks from the linemen and that was one of the biggest things I was looking for tonight. To see if they were going to come out explosive,” Renggli said.
Monte Vista Christian senior Andrew Montoya looks for an open lane against North Monterey County's defense during its non-league game on Friday. (Juan Reyes — The Pajaronian)
Alexander said the mindset going into Friday’s contest was to be the aggressors first. It worked, as the Mustangs’ defense put the pressure on N.M.C. sophomore quarterback Oscar Aquino early and often.
“Hit ‘em in the mouth first,” Alexander said. “If we hit them in the mouth first they’re going to fall and we came out and hit them first.”
Aquino, who was making his first start at the varsity level, fumbled the snap four times on Friday night, including a crucial turnover midway through the first quarter that resulted in a touchdown for M.V.C.’s defense.
Aquino started in place of senior Brandon Ducusin, who was suspended for one game after an altercation during last week’s game against North Salinas.
N.M.C. coach Sean Gomes said there may have been some nerves at the beginning but he liked the way his sophomore quarterback stepped up and finished.
“I thought he settled in and did well for us in the second half,” Gomes said. “But there may have been a couple of jitters in the beginning for him, which I don’t blame him.”
The Condors were forced to punt the ball on their third possession and the Mustangs capitalized on the ensuing drive.
Renggli drove the Mustangs down the field on a 13-play, 62-yard drive that was capped off with an 8-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Andrew Montoya to go up 14-0.
It was Montoya’s lone reception of the game. He also finished with 57 rushing yards on 10 carries and a rushing touchdown.
The Condors responded back and Aquino orchestrated a good looking drive of his own, marching the team down the field on an 11-play, 61-yard drive.
N.M.C. senior Riley Anderson finished the drive with a 4-yard run into the end zone that cut the deficit by half, 14-7.
But that’s as close as the Condors would get.
North Monterey County senior Riley Anderson dives past the goal line against Monte Vista Christian's defense during its non-league game on Friday. (Juan Reyes — The Pajaronian)
Aquino completed 10-of-15 pass attempts for 116 yards and a touchdown, while Anderson finished with 29 rushing yards on five carries and two receptions for 27 yards.
Alexander busted through with a 67-yard sprint to the 1-yard line on the Mustangs' next possession. He found the end zone two plays later to put M.V.C. ahead, 21-7, going into halftime.
“Looking at the scoreboard at halftime, 21-7, (I) was just thinking that we gave them that one long play that set up what I thought was an easy score,” Gomes said.
Gomes also mentioned the fumble that was recovered in the end zone by the Mustangs was a huge boost for the opposing team, as well.
“I thought the kids played hard and it could’ve been a 7-7 game at the half if we’d make a couple of more plays,” Gomes said.
The Condors finished with eight penalties for 60 yards and it was the Mustangs who made the big plays throughout the game, capitalizing on every opportunity they were given.
Alexander said having last week’s game canceled was a bit disappointing but the coaching staff let the team know that things happen for a reason.
“Either you guys are going to fold and take this as ‘the season’s over’ or are you guys going to be dogs and eat,” Alexander said. “We had to come out and prove something.”
Up next, the Mustangs (1-0) play against The King’s Academy on Friday at 7:30 p.m., while the Condors (1-1) play at Scotts Valley on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Reporting Scores: Coaches are encouraged to report scores, stats and highlights to [email protected] following games or call 831-761-7335. Please include your name and a contact number in the email.