After a big win on the road, then an admittedly up-and-down week of practice, according to coach Ryan Butner, Central Valley was faced with another top-10 program from the West Side.
For much of the day the Bears contributed to ragged play – turnovers and penalties were frequent – and CV found itself down 33-14 entering the fourth quarter with little momentum.
But momentum is a funny thing, and it can change quickly.
CV (2-0) outscored Garfield 26-6 in the fourth quarter – surviving fumbles, interceptions, defensive touchdowns, penalties and missed extra points – and pulled off a 40-39 comeback win over the visiting Bulldogs in a nonleague game on Saturday.
It wasn’t sealed until Josh Lawson’s interception with just over a minute to go with Garfield (1-1) driving again.
“We had no intention of making it that interesting, but we’ll take it.” Butner said.
“That’s a pretty darn good team that we played, and so we’ll absolutely take it.”
CV’s Matt Gabbert went 27 of 36 for 342 yards with touchdown passes of 24, 12, 51 and 81 yards – all in the fourth quarter.
Cameron Sheley caught Gabbert’s last two scoring strikes.
“Cam Sheley was just, I mean, he willed us to that win,” Butner said. “He was incredible tonight.”
“The game plan was just hit them deep,” Sheley said. “First half, the seams just weren’t open. But second half, they opened up as the defense tired.”
Sheley ended with nine catches for 174 yards.
Josh Lawson and Carsen Raab reeled in TD passes while Ryan Harper rushed for 83 yards on 18 carries. Chad Carlson added an 82-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to give the Bears a much-needed boost after Garfield went up 27-7.
Gabbert hooked up with Lawson on a 24-yard touchdown pass, but the kick missed, and CV trailed 33-20 with 10:25 left.
After a short punt, Sheley got loose in the seam for 24 yards down to the 10. On third and 12, Gabbert hit Raab on a slant, and he wrestled his way into the end zone.
“We started the up-tempo a little bit more, and that helped,” Butner said. “And then it just seemed to open up the floodgates on our pass game.”
But Landon Rehkow missed his second extra point, and CV trailed 33-26 with 8:21 left.
The Bears got it back at their 48 with 5:20 left. On the next play, Gabbert swung it to Sheley, who slipped a tackle and went the rest of the way untouched to make it a one-point game.
“They’ve got great speed,” Sheley said. “I don’t know how I outran some of those guys.”
Garfield replied. With 2:58 left, Morrow bulled his way off-tackle for the go-ahead score. But Garfield missed its third extra point of the day and led 39-33 with 2:54 to go.
On the next play, Gabbert hit Sheley in stride on a seam route for 81 yards.
“Just simple,” Butner said. “And Matt made the right read and got it right to him. And (Sheley) did the rest.”
This time, Rehkow’s kick was true, and CV led by one with 2:38 left.
“I just had to trust the hold,” Rehkow said of what turned out to be the winning extra point. “I took a little more time on it and just put it through when I needed to.”
Garfield had one last drive, but Lawson made a leaping interception in CV territory and returned it to the Garfield 25, where the Bears took victory formation.
A scoreless first quarter was marred by mistakes, with three fumbles, two interceptions and six penalties combined.
Harper plowed up the middle for the game’s first score with 7:05 left in the half.
Garfield converted a fourth down that led to a TD. On the next play, Jadon Mills-Beach sacked Gabbert, forced a fumble and recovered it for another score.
On fourth and 20 at the CV 37 with 5 seconds left in the half, Javon Tade found Jamaal Smith on a short crossing route. He outran the defenders into the end zone as the horn sounded and Garfield led 21-7 at intermission.
“We came out as flat as I’ve seen us in a while,” Butner said.
St. Ignatius 37, Gonzaga Prep 22: Danny Ryan made seven catches for 109 yards with two touchdowns and the Wildcats (2-1) beat the Bullpups (1-1) in San Francisco. St. Ignatius build a 20-0 first-quarter lead. Ryan McKenna rushed 17 times for 166 yards and a touchdown for G-Prep.
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