SAN JOSE — Gavilan nearly pulled out a Coast Conference football victory over the host San Jose City College Jaguars, only to fall short 27-26 in a big-play, big-miscue afternoon.
Trailing 27-20 with 7:03 left in the game, the Rams hustled to recover a muffed Jaguar punt return on the San Jose City five-yard-line. When the Rams lost 12 yards on the next two plays, thoughts of a victory were dimming when the Rams gave the ball over on downs with 4:12 to play.
The Jaguars earned two first downs before facing a fourth down on their own 25 with 14.5 seconds left. The Jaguar punter could not handle the low snap, however, and the Rams recovered on the San Jose City five with 5.7 seconds left.
Donovan Weatherspoon’s option pass fell short but the clock showed 0.6 seconds left. Nate Ellis threaded a five-yard slant pass to Trevin Kelley for the touchdown. The game ended when the PAT try by Seth Holcolm slipped just wide right.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to finish,” said Gavilan coach Spencer Gilford. “I knew it was going to be a tough game. San Jose was coming off two straight wins and was at home. Both teams were banged up, it was up to who would make a play at the end.”
Ellis finished with 237 yards through the air on a 24 for 36 effort.
“That’s the play I wanted,” the sophomore said of the final touchdown toss.
Jakari Johnson dominated the scoresheet for the Rams with three touchdowns. The sophomore all-purpose threat fashioned touchdown runs of 24 and two yards, then capped the performance with a 79-yard pass reception from Ellis to push the Rams ahead 20-13 in the third quarter.
Ellis ducked away from two defenders on the play before spotting Johnson open along the right sideline.
“He was a safety valve,” Ellis said of Johnson’s pattern. “I saw him hauling up the sideline and made the pass.”
San Jose was efficient enough on offense to post 477 yards, 354 in the air. Broderick Thomas connected on 19 of 33 passes for three touchdowns.
“It was a great team win,” said Jaguar coach Carlton Conner. “We worked hard on passing this week. That was the key to our offense.”
Gavilan had many highlights of their own, starting with the game’s first series when Ellis delivered three straight completions as the Rams reached the Jaguar two in eight plays. The offense staggered, losing 14 yards before a field goal try went wide right.
The Rams regrouped on their second series, covering 80 yards in seven plays for the 7-0 lead with 5:33 to go in the first quarter. Johnson jammed through the right side of the line and was free for the final 20 of the 24-yard scoring jaunt.
After the Jaguars were turned back from the one early in the second quarter, the hosts made it 7-7 when Dorian Williams ran the final 17 yards with 7:59 left in the first half. When the Rams failed on a 29-yard field goal with 4:40 left before intermission, the Jaguars took a 13-7 lead when Thomas lofted a 44-yard TD pass to Lydell Williams behind the Ram secondary. Gavilan blocked the PAT attempt.
Gavilan used a successful onside kick to start the second half with the ball. Johnson carried on six of the 10 plays in the drive, capped by the two-yard burst off right tackle. Holcomb’s PAT try was blocked to leave the score at 13-13.
After the Ellis-Johnson highlight pass put Gavilan up 20-13 with 7:33 left in the third, the Jaguars recorded seven first downs to make it 20-20 on a Thomas 10-yarder to paydirt to Kirby Lindstrom.
William Lee’s hard tackle behind the line of scrimmage resulted in a Jaguar fumble that the Rams recovered on the San Jose City 23. The Rams reached the one before a fumble on an exchange gave the ball over to San Jose City with 9:24 left. Thomas dropped a pass to Lindstrom along the left sideline and the wide-out went the 92 yards to the 27-20 Jaguar lead.
Jesse Barker caught nine Ellis passes for 63 yards.
The Rams take a 2-5 mark, including 0-2 in Coast Conference play, into Saturday’s 5 p.m. home game against West Valley.