By Frank Smith
The Gophers from Florence rolled into to town on Friday night to take on San Manuel in a must win game for the Miners. If the Miners wanted to stay in contention for a playoff spot in the Division V State Tournament they would need to pull off the win over a bigger opponent, instead the Gophers took the win 53 – 29 and knocked the Miners out of playoff contention.
The Gophers wasted no time getting on the scoreboard on a five play – 77yard opening drive in for a score capped off with a 10 yard pass into the end zone that was tipped and caught for the touchdown by wide receiver Ramsey Garcia, the extra point kick by Jacob Lamas was good for a 7 – 0 lead with 9:23 on the clock in the first quarter.
The Miners answered right back on their opening drive, scoring on the second play of the drive. San Manuel lined up at their own 48 yard line after the Gophers attempted an onside kick, running back John Ruiz got the first call as he picked up four yards on the carry. The Miners were now lined up at the Florence 48 yard line on second down and six to go for the first down, quarterback Adrian Torres dropped back for the pass hitting wide receiver Andre Sierra with a five yard pass to the right side of the field, Sierra then tosses the ball to Ruiz on the ‘Hook and Ladder’ play for the 48 yard touchdown run. The extra point kick by Adrian Diaz was wide left for a 6 – 7 score with 8:38 on the clock.
Later on in the second quarter, the Miners began their drive from their own 25 yard line driving down to the Gophers 43 yard line, wide receiver Sierra took the ball on a reverse taking the ball down to the Gophers one yard line where he fumbled the ball as he reached for the end zone.
Florence would take over at their own one yard line driving 99 yards in 12 plays capped off with a Jordan Neal 25 yard run into the end zone, the extra point kick by Jacob Lamas was no good for a 13 – 6 lead with 3;56 left in the second quarter.
After a punt, an interception, and a fumble on the next ensuing drives, the Gophers had possession at the Miners 31 yard line. Florence went on to score six plays later on a four yard run by Nick Brown into the end zone, the two point conversion by Jared Williams was good to add to the lead at 21 – 6 with :26 left in the first half of play.
In the third quarter, the Miners came out fired up – taking their second half opening drive in for a score. San Manuel lined up at the Gophers 43 yard line after another onside kick and a short return by the Miners, San Manuel drove down to the Gophers three yard line in six plays-capped off by a three yard blast into the end zone by running back Shane Kelly, the two point conversion by Ruiz was good for a 14 – 21 score with 9:11 on the clock.
On the ensuing kickoff, Florence return man Keyshaun Boyd returned the ball 95 yards to the house for the touchdown, the extra point kick was no good as the Gophers pulled ahead 27 – 14 with 8:57 on the clock.
The Gophers lined up to kick off to the Miners, dropping an onside kick and recovering the ball at the Miners 48 yard line. Florence scored seven plays later on a one yard touchdown run up the middle by Nick Brown, the two point pass was incomplete for the score of 33 – 14 with 5:40 in the third quarter.
On the next possession for the Miners from their own 37 yard, the Miners went with a deep pass on the first play of the drive that was intercepted to give the ball back to the Gophers at their own 25 yard line.
Florence cashed in on the miscue six plays later when Jordan Neal broke loose for a 42 yardtouchdown run, the extra point kick by Lamas was good to extend the lead to 40 – 14 at the 2:10 mark of the third quarter.
The Gophers intercepted another pass on the next Miners drive – setting up Florence at their own 37 yard line, on the second play of the drive the Miners defense came up big – knocking the ball looses at the 44 yard line with defensive end Jonathan Croci picking up the ball and returning it the Gophers three yard line.
The Miners lined up at the three yard line, quarterback Torres handed the ball off to Ruiz who ran to the left side of the field, fumbled the ball at the two yard line where a heads up Torres picked up the ball and continued to run it into the end zone for the touchdown. The two point conversion run was no good to chip away at the Gophers lead at 20 – 40 as time expired in the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Gophers special teams did it again – they returned another kick off for a touchdown this time it was Jaylean Dean from 80 yards out for the score, the extra point kick was blocked for a 46 – 20 lead with 11;46 in the fourth quarter.
The Miners recovered another onside kick giving the possession at their own 45 yard line, San Manuel went three and out – faking the punt on fourth down, coming up short of the first down to give the ball back to the Gophers at their own 49 yard line.
Florence lined up at their own 49 yard line, scoring three plays later on another JordanNeal touchdown from 33 yards out down the right side of the field, the extra point kick by Lamas was good for a 53 – 20 score with 8:45 left in the fourth quarter.
The Miners took the ensuing kick and were penalized for a holding call – moving the ball back to their own 15 yard line. San Manuel moved the ball down to the Gophers 15 yard line in 10 plays to attempt a 32 yard field goal on fourth down and two yards to go. The Miners lined up for the kick with kicker Adrian Diaz splitting the up rights for the three point score, with the Gophers still ahead23 – 53 with 4;50 showing on the clock.
San Manuel kicked off to the Gophers where they began the drive from their own 37 yard line, the Miners defense held Florence to a three and out, forcing the punt.
The Miners started out at their own 41 yard line, driving down to the Gophers 14 yard line in five plays with Ruiz capping off the drive with a 14 yard touchdown run, the two point conversion pass went incomplete for a 29 – 53 final score.
Offensively, John Ruiz had 58 yards rushing with one touchdown, one reception for 60yards with a touchdown, Andre Sierra had one rush for 43yards with three receptions for 36 yards, Shane Kelly had 33 yards rushing with one touchdown, and Adrian Torres had 19 yards rushing with one touchdown with 112 yards passing and one touchdown.
Defensively, Colten smith led the team with tackles and Adrian Torres followed him closely.
Head Coach Steve Elmore said, “We played hard the whole game and never backed down against a bigger and faster opponent. I think we were in it the entire game until the fourth quarter when the turnovers killed us. You cannot win a game with eight turnovers and two kick returns for touchdowns.
In the end, I am proud of all the guys this year. We came together as a team and never quit during any game this year. All I can ask of them as a coach is to try their hardest and to never give up and this group of guys did that game in and game out. I am very proud of the 2012 San Manuel Football Team.
The Miners missed the playoffs this year, finishing 20 in the final power point rankings as only the top 16 team advance to the state playoffs. San Manuel will have several players to rebuild with and will look to get back into the playoffs next year.
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