It’s been awhile since the Righetti High School football has won a game against Arroyo Grande — since 2009, to be exact.
The Warriors broke that streak by doing something simple: forcing Arroyo Grande out of its comfort zone. Righetti’s defense took away the Eagles’ vaunted running game behind talented back James Gilmet to grind out a 46-24 Mountain League victory Friday night in Arroyo Grande.
“They did what we thought they were going to do,” second-year Arroyo Grande head coach Mike Hartman said.
Righetti (8-1 overall) allowed only one touchdown in the second half, which came with 3:11 left in the fourth quarter, to improve to 3-0 in league play on its fifth straight victory.
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Arroyo Grande became dependent on the pass in the second half while trying to overcome a growing deficit. As a run-first team, the Eagles were forced to play in a way they weren’t built for.
Arroyo Grande (6-3, 1-2) was unable to work the ball downfield and instead settled for short plays which chewed up valuable clock. And it took the ball out of the hands of Gilmet, the Eagles’ top playmaker.
Gilmet got involved early, scoring two touchdowns in the first half. The second half was a different story.
Gilmet was split out at wide receiver for much of the second half, which limited his touches, Hartman said.
“He’s a really good receiver,” Hartman said.
Gilmet had Arroyo Grande’s longest play from scrimmage in the game, a 35-yard run. He also caught a 29-yard touchdown that bounced off another Arroyo Grande player’s hands.
In the fourth quarter, Gilmet touched the ball just one time, catching an 11-yard pass from Kadin Byrne.
Caleb Tomasin, the Eagles’ leading rusher entering Friday, did not play.
Righetti lost starting quarterback Logan Mortensen on the forth play of the game with a collarbone injury. Senior Brandon Giddings, who started the year at quarterback before giving way to Mortensen, took over.
Having a proven backup came up big for the Warriors, as Giddings had two touchdowns — one passing and one rushing.
There were several moments in the first half that haunted the Eagles for the remainder of the game.
Arroyo Grande jumped out to an early 14-7 lead and after a fumble recovery, were once again deep in Warriors territory. On forth and 1, Hartman opted for a field goal. The kick was missed, and Righetti scored on the ensuing drive to tie the score.
The Eagles gave up two quick scores to close out the second half. The first came after an Arroyo Grande field goal, which made the score 21-17 with 2:27 left in the quarter.
Arroyo Grande then attempted to run the two-minute drill and was intercepted. The ball was returned to the Eagle 15-yard line and set up a Giddings touchdown to make the score 27-17 at the half.
Arroyo Grande will play Atascadero next Friday at home to finish out league play. Righetti will have a bye next week, before playing St. Joseph.