After throwing the ball only twice last week against Madera High, Paso Robles’ football team changed its tune Friday against Righetti – surprising the Warriors right off the bat to build an early lead thanks to some deep passes.
After going up 27-7 midway through the third quarter, the Bearcats scrapped out a win after a resilient comeback by Righetti as the Warriors pulled within a touchdown and took the ball deep into Bearcat territory on a drive late in the fourth quarter.
The play of the game came when Paso Robles’ defense got its final stop on fourth-and-four with 1:17 left at the Paso Robles 25-yard line on a rollout pass by Righetti quarterback Troy Prober that grazed the fingertips of fullback Jacob Baro.
A play call mix of pounding the ball on the ground – almost exclusively using running back Colton Madrigal and quarterback Garrett Nelson – as well as throwing deep balls to keep the Warriors honest helped the Bearcats win 27-21 at home in the PAC 7 opener for both teams.
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“We didn’t want to do exactly the same thing as last week,” Paso Robles coach Rich Schimke said. “We did enough to show them different looks. But we pounded the ball and gave them enough deep looks when they loaded the box.”
On the Bearcats’ first drive of the game, Nelson missed on a deep route, and then on third down, Schimke called what appeared to be the same play. Sophomore receiver Bailey Gaither hauled in a 46-yard toss by outsprinting his defender. Gaither caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Nelson in the third quarter as well as a 47-yarder in the game. He finished with four key catches in the game for 117 yards and a touchdown.
“I just went with the plays the coach called,” Gaither said. “It was nice to get the win. It took everybody tonight.”
The complexion of the game could have changed in the first half if both teams had converted better in the red zone.
After a delay of game penalty set Righetti back on a fourth-and-goal with eight minutes to go in the second quarter, and the Bearcats stopped a run, Nelson fumbled about 1 yard from the end zone, turning the ball over to Righetti.
Still, the Bearcats pulled in front 21-7 on 5- and 7-yard TD runs by Nelson in the second quarter after engineering drives.
Paso Robles relied on the workman-like runs of Madrigal, who pushed and drove and spun for extra yards amid team tackles by Righetti throughout the night.
Madrigal finished with 110 yards on 25 carries, and Nelson ran for 69 on 12 carries to go with his 176 yards on 9-for-18 passing.
Prober led what Schimke called an unusual offense for the PAC 7 in which the Warriors rarely used any backs for most of the night. Prober used a spread offense to fire off 258 yards on 20-for-31 passing.
But a key interception by Rudy Binkeleabout five-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter helped keep Paso Robles’ lead as Schimke bled the clock with run calls for much of the rest of the game.
“We predicted them to finish first in league this year, so it is a good win for us,” Madrigal said. “A win is a win however you look at and it was good to get it tonight.”