The Casa Grande Gauchos rushed for 327 yards on the way to a 35-0 win over Sonoma Valley in a SCL tilt Friday night at Arnold Field.
The loss drops the Dragons to 1-3 in SCL play (4-4 overall) and sets up a crucial meeting tomorrow night at Durst Field against the winless Petaluma Trojans (0-8).
Despite being outgained 165 yards to 15 on the ground in the first half the Dragons trailed only 13-0 at the half and seemed poised to embark upon a second half rally, but the Gauchos dominated the time of possession in the second half to cruise to the easy victory.
In the second half the Gauchos ran 32 offensive plays to Sonoma Valley’s nine.
Sonoma Valley took the opening possession and moved the ball for a first down, an 11-yard connection from Sam Morgan to Dan Deely, before being forced to punt. The Gauchos answered on the ensuing drive with the imposing 6-2, 260 lb tailback Elijah Qualls, who for all of his size, proved nimble on his feet, shedding Dragon tacklers repeatedly throughout the night.
It took the Gauchos only three plays to go in for their opening score, a one-yard dive by Qualls who set up the score with a pretty dash of 54 yards down the left-sideline on the preceding play.
The Gauchos used a fake punt at the end of the first quarter to keep possession near midfield and carried the momentum into the opening minutes of the second quarter when quarterback Jajuan Lawson found running back Caio Froes for a 21-yard scoring strike and a 13-0 lead.
The Dragons best opportunity to score in the first half came when Morgan’s long pass nearly connected with senior Chris Swanson in the first quarter. Swanson was covered by standout defensive back Steven Bentley all night, and Bentley added to his league leading interception total, grabbing two more picks to up his total to eight on the season.
Morgan found junior Keenan Tuohy and senior Sam Keechler for gains of 22 and 29 yards, respectively in the first half, but the Sonoma passing game was held in check in the second half, netting just a mere 12 yards. On the night the Gauchos ran 66 plays to the Dragons 23.
The Gauchos continued their domination in the second half, scoring on a 65-yard opening drive to start the third quarter and then going on an 11-play 60-yard drive to put the game out of reach at 28-0 late in the third.
The Gauchos would tack on one more score as the result of good field position following a Sonoma fumble to wrap up the night’s scoring.