The Monterey Trail Mustangs showed how special their team is this season as they beat the St. Mary’s Rams of Stockton 28-21 Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Division I playoffs.
The fifth seeded Mustangs made a statement when they stopped the Rams on their first possession of the game.
The sideline was pumped up and the Monterey Trail fans were loud.
The Mustangs got on the scoreboard first after junior running back/defensive back Prophet Brown intercepted a pass and brought it back 65 yards to the end zone to grab the early 7-0 lead just under four minutes left in the first quarter.
Brown said that he noticed the play call was the same as the play before, so he read the coverage and was able to step into the ball and take it to the land of quick six.
St. Mary’s, who won the Tri-City Athletic League, fired back at Monterey Trail half-way in the second quarter when senior quarterback Noah May found junior wide receiver Nick Murray for a seven-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7.
On the ensuing drive, the Mustangs attempted to punt from their own 28-yard line, they turned the ball over on downs after a mishandled snap and gave the Rams great field position.
St. Mary’s (6-5, 5-0) capitalized on the great field position when May found sophomore receiver Jadyn Marshall for a 29-yard touchdown pass to give the Rams the 14-7 lead late into the second quarter and into the half.
Monterey Trail (11-1, 5-0) opened the second half with an electrifying burst from Brown when took the second half kick to the right sideline deep into St. Mary’s territory.
Mustangs senior quarterback Viktor Timonin tied the game at 14 when he rushed the ball into the end zone for a yard within the first couple minutes of the second half.
The Monterey Trail defense dominated the Rams offense when they were breaking up passes and you could hear the hard hits in the stands.
The great defensive play led to great opportunities for the Mustangs’ offense to get great field position.
Monterey Trail head coach T.J. Ewing said special teams changed the game for his team in the second half.
“We did great when we had good field position,” Ewing said.
The veer offense that the Mustangs run ate up a lot of time off the clock in the second half, which limited the opportunities for the passing dominated St. Mary’s offense.
Monterey Trail took the 21-14 lead late in the third quarter when senior running back Caleb Ramseur drove his way into the end zone after a one-yard touchdown rush.
For the second week in a row, Brown threw a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver/defensive back Antonio Williams.
“We told ourselves that this isn’t going to be our last week of football,” Williams said.
The 13-yard touchdown pass gave the Mustangs a 14-point lead with 4:23 left in the game.
“It can be a dangerous weapon,” Brown said. “They don’t know whether they are going to have to stop the pitch or the pass.”
St. Mary’s scored quickly with 2:47 left in the game when May found senior wide receiver Elijah Wood for an 8-yard passing touchdown to decrease the Monterey Trail lead to 7.
After the Mustangs recovered the onside kick, the main play of the game came with 1:10 left in the game where Monterey Trail faced a 4th and 1 on the St. Mary’s 28-yard line.
Ramseur secured the victory for the Mustangs after he got the first down and the Rams were all out of timeouts.
Monterey Trail received a shot at redemption as they will travel to Folsom this Friday at 7 p.m. and take on the top ranked Bulldogs in the Division I bracket.
The Mustangs lost to Folsom last season 63-25 in the Division I final. “We’re going to practice hard and grind,” Brown said.