GILROY – Nate Ellis had another solid performance at quarterback Saturday evening, pacing the Gavilan College Rams past West Valley 42-10 on the winners’ field.
The sophomore signal-caller calmly recorded a 20 of 28 passing performance for 230 yards, going along with his two touchdown passes against the Vikings.
“Nate’s worked so hard in the offseason,” acknowledged coach Spencer Gilford. “We have a strong training regimen and he never missed a day. It paid off tonight.”
Gavilan remains alive to finish the season with a 5-5 record, needing wins over Hartnell and Cabrillo to accomplish that mark. The Panthers play Gavilan at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Garcia-Elder Sports Complex.
With all-purpose standout Jakari Johnson not able to play due to a lower body injury, Gilford gave more work to halfbacks Miguel Redmond and Donovan Weatherspoon. Redmond responded with a career-best 136 yards on the ground in 13 carries, including a 37-yarder. Donovan, a sophomore, added 73 yards on 17 carries
The first half produced the bulk of the scoring. The Rams did not need to punt in the first 30 minutes, instead scoring seven points on each of their first five drives to take a 35-10 lead into the lockerroom.
Gavilan received the opening kickoff and went 60 yards in eight plays to a 7-0 led. The Rams faced only one third down and came up with an 18-yard play when Ellis juked one defender before finding Weatherspoon open for the reception. Redmond nudged off right guard from one yard out for the first of six Ram touchdowns with 12:21 left in the first quarter.
After the Vikings went out in three plays, the Rams grabbed a 14-0 lead by covering 85 yards on 11 plays. Ellis was one dropped pass away from a 5 for 5 showing in the drive. Gavilan’s potent offense did not face third down before Weatherspoon ended the suspense with a three-yard run around right end.
The Rams went up 21-0 before the end of the first quarter. Ellis staved off the West Valley pass rush enough to toss a 14-yarder to Weatherspoon in response to a third and 12 test. Ellis lofted a soft pass to an open Trevin Kelley behind the defense for the 13-yard scoring play with 59 seconds left.
“We worked on that play all week,” said Kelley. “We knew it could work in the redzone. Nobody followed me – I was wide open.”
The Vikings scored their only touchdown with 12:45 left in the half when Dre Hill carried six times for 43 yards, finishing with a 10-yard slice over right guard.
Gavilan bounced back with five first downs on the way to a 53-yard scoring drive. Ellis whipped a 21-yard pass to Mike Deans-Merson to the two-yard stripe, then rolled around the right side for the six points.
When the Vikings posted a field goal with 5:26 to go in the half, Gavilan came back with a crisp seven-play drive for a 35-10 cushion. Ellis used his speed to reach the sideline before throwing a 32-yard pass to Jesse Barker to the Viking seven. Ellis found Seth Holcomb open at the back of the endzone for the touchdown.
After Redmond’s pop through the middle earned 37 yards late in the third quarter. Ellis followed with a classic quarterback draw for 14 yards to paydirt, going untouched by the Viking defense.
“We’ve been up at halftime before and gave up the lead,” said Gilford. “We’ve been there and we learned from it, how to finish. We were better in the defensive secondary, not giving up any big plays.”