Spartans advance to semifinals

Trace Pugh slings three touchdowns in Strathmore’s 54-6 win over Boron to open up D-VI playoffs

By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

STRATHMORE – The Spartans’ march toward a third straight Division VI title got off to a slow start against a familiar opponent on Friday night, Nov. 2. In a rematch of week one, top-seeded Strathmore defeated the No. 8-seeded Boron Bobcats in a 54-6 rout.

“I think our kids came out really flat, or Boron came out real inspired, and it probably was a combination of the two,” Strathmore head coach Jeromy Blackwell said.

The only scoring done in the first quarter was by the Spartans’ (10-1, 5-1) special teams. Fabian Alcantar fielded the opening kickoff on the 17 yard line and returned it 83 yards for the touchdown.

Afterward both offenses became bogged down in a ground struggle. Having forced Boron (3-8, 2-2) to punt, Strathmore completely ran out the clock in the first quarter, and half of the second with a 19-play drive. Yet, when the Spartans got close to the goal line their running game was unable to punch it in. Strathmore suffered a six-yard loss on a first and goal on the Boron six yard line. Instead of trying another run, Strathmore relied on the arm of quarterback Trace Pugh. His first two passes fell incomplete, but his third found Andre Bravo in the right corner of the end zone.

“Pugh throws a really nice ball,” Blackwell said. “I think he can drop it in from anywhere and has remarkable vision.”
Pugh’s arm and his vision got him three touchdowns through the air by going 7-12 for 100 yards. His second touchdown came a few minutes later when Strathmore was unable to score on the ground for the second straight drive. A holding penalty at the seven yard line gave the Spartans a third and goal from the 17 yard line. He needed one play to complete a pass to Amando Rodriguez, who hung onto the ball despite being hit at the goal line. Pugh added his third on a 19-yard pass to Lee Navarro with under a minute left in the first half.

“We have the weapons to pass and it is good to use it because both games are good to have,” Pugh said.

The Spartans’ running game was stymied by the Bobcats defenders crashing the interior of the offensive line to push the line into the backfield. As the tailbacks tried to bounce the ball outside the Bobcats’ defense pursuit ran most of the down, or a lineman expecting the play to go inside was exposed for a hold. At halftime Blackwell made one simple adjustment to make sure the interior defenders were picked up, and it worked to perfection.

“We’ve still got some things to iron out,” Blackwell said.

Alonso Acevedo scored twice on the ground in the span of five plays to begin the second half. His first came one play after Andre Bravo recovered a fumble on the 10 yard line during the opening kickoff. A minute later Acevedo turned an interception by Osvaldo Ibarra into points on a run of 24 yards and made the score 41-0. Acevedo finished the game with 10 carries for 123 yards.

The Spartans will not be able to afford a slow start to their offense this Friday night when the fifth-seeded California City Ravens (7-3, 4-0) come to town.

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