Saturday, November 28, 2015 • 09:56

Jaguars' losing streak extends to six games after Homecoming loss to Mt. Carmel

Head Coach Rob Gilster said that his team is struggling with costly mistakes against capable foes.
October 31, 2013
After winning the first two games of the season in thrilling, come-from-behind fashion, the Valley Center varsity football team earned the nickname Cardiac Cats.

Now, after falling to Mt. Carmel 44–29 in the Homecoming game on Friday night to extend their losing streak to six games, and with only two games left in the regular season, the Jaguars may be in danger of giving their coaches a heart attack.

"We just can't finish," head coach Rob Gilster said after the game. "That was a good football team with a bunch of good athletes. When we make mistakes and we don't make plays, that's what you're going to get. You had the play where the runner should have been down, and on top of that we get one of our guys hurt, and it's hard to recover from that. We have to find ways to bounce back from things like that, and we just have to get better. Now is the time for our seniors to decide to leave a legacy of hard work and not giving up."

In a game that featured six touchdowns of 50 yards or more, the Jaguars stayed with the visiting Sundevils for the majority of the first three quarters.

But early in the third quarter, Mt. Carmel scored a 51-yard touchdown on a run up the middle that included a controversial decision by the referees. The Sundevil runner ran into the pile at the line of scrimmage and ducked to avoid a pair of Valley Center defenders. As he went low, the runner stumbled and put his left hand on the ground, and it appeared as though his right knee also hit the turf. But the officials didn't blow the whistle, the play continued and the touchdown went up on the scoreboard.

As the runner ducked at the line of scrimmage, the two Valley Center defenders, Jared Gilster and Dustin Dendy, ran headlong into each other in the backfield. Dendy absorbed the worst of the head-to-head collision and remained on the ground after the play. After the medical staff on the field proceeded through the full set of precautions, Dendy was wheeled off the field on a stretcher and taken to the hospital. The initial diagnosis on the field was that of a concussion, but further medical tests were needed to confirm the extent of the injury.

After a quick Jaguar touchdown in response to the big play, Mt. Carmel scored the next 21 points of the contest before Valley Center punched in a two-yard touchdown run with just over a minute left in the game.

"We can't make mistakes and we've got to execute," Coach Gilster told the team after the game. "You had it right there, and you let it get away. You have to look at yourselves, I have to look at myself, and we have to get to work and finish off the season with improvement. We play the number one team in the county next week [San Pasqual] and we can beat them, it's up to you. But if we can't tackle, then it's going to be fifty million to nothing."

The big-play scoring got started early, as the Sundevils scored on the fourth play from scrimmage, taking in a 50-yard run for a touchdown. They missed the extra point, however, so the lead was 6–0 with only two minutes gone from the game clock.

The next three possessions ended in punts, but on Mt. Carmel's first drive of the second quarter, the Valley Center defense came up with a huge play.

The Sundevils picked up big yards on a 42-yard run by the quarterback on first down, then drove to the Valley Center two-yard line a few plays later. But on a run toward the goal line, the Jaguar defense knocked the ball away from the Mt. Carmel running back and linebacker Brad Dozier scooped up the fumble. He wove his way back and forth across the field on the return, evading tacklers until he was finally brought down at the Mt. Carmel two-yard line for a return of 96 yards.

Two plays later, Daniel DeLeon ran a quarterback sneak for a one-yard touchdown that put the Jags ahead 7–6 with 7:29 remaining in the second quarter.

It didn't take long for the Sundevils to respond, however, as they connected on a 70-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the ensuing series to pull ahead 13–7 just 20 seconds after the Valley Center score.

The Jaguars' next two drives resulted in a pair of turnovers, as they gave up a sack on a fourth-and-seven attempt from the Mt. Carmel 27 on the ensuing drive. Then, after forcing a three-and-out by the Sundevils, the Jags were backed up by a holding penalty and tried to run a simple draw play to run out the clock on the first half. But Dozier coughed up the ball and Mt. Carmel recovered, giving the Sundevils a chance to kick a 31-yard field goal at the end of the half to take a 16–7 lead.

The scoring in the third quarter came fast and furious, as the Jaguars took the second half kickoff and marched 78 yards in eight plays to score on an 18-yard touchdown pass from DeLeon to Jared Gilster, cutting the Mt. Carmel lead to 16–14 with 9:05 left in the third period.

Less than a minute later, the Sundevils were back in the endzone, scoring on the controversial 51-yard touchdown run that left one Jaguar injured and put the Sundevils up 23–14 with 8:07 left in the third.

But just 16 seconds later, the Jags had once again closed the deficit to just two points, as DeLeon connected with a wide open August Fluegge on a quick pass that turned into a 68-yard touchdown that made the score 23–21 with 7:51 remaining in the third quarter.

The teams traded punts on the next two drives, but the scoring in the period was far from over.

The Sundevils scored on a short pass that turned into a 74-yard touchdown to make the score 30–21 with 3:43 left in the quarter.

Then, after a Valley Center three-and-out, Mt. Carmel scored on the first play of the ensuing series when the quarterback took off for a 62-yard touchdown run that increased the lead to 37–21 with 1:57 remaining in the period.

The Jaguars fought hard to get back into the game and strung together a solid drive of 15 plays that included three first downs. But the final play came on fourth-and-six at the Mt. Carmel 15-yard line, and DeLeon's pass fell incomplete, resulting in a turnover.

The Sundevils scored on a 12-yard run eight plays later to increase their lead to 44–21 with just under four minutes left in the game.

Valley Center's final drive used 13 more plays and was capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Dozier, followed by a swing pass to Dozier for the two-point conversion, making the score 44–29 with 1:11 left in the game.

Despite the fight put up by the Jags at the end, all that remained was for the Sundevils to kneel for two plays to run out the clock and take the win.

"As coaches and players, we want to play every game to honor the legacy of Valley Center football," Coach Gilster added. "And I think we did that tonight. We were out-manned and out-played, but they fought hard and they never gave up."

Next up for the Jaguars is a trip to San Pasqual to face the top-ranked Eagles on Friday night at 7 p.m.

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