High School Sports

Arroyo Grande comeback comes up short against Thousand Oaks in semifinals

Arroyo Grande vs Thousand Oaks during Friday’s playoff game.
Arroyo Grande vs Thousand Oaks during Friday’s playoff game. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Despite trailing by 19 points at the end of the third quarter in Friday night’s CIF-Southern Section Northern Division semifinal playoff game, Arroyo Grande High’s football team stormed back and had a chance to win with a touchdown on the game’s final drive.

But a Sawyer May completion to Bradley Mickey with two seconds remaining in the game came up about 10 yards short of the endzone, and a lateral attempt wasn’t enough as Arroyo Grande fell to Thousand Oaks, 40-35.

To The Max: Thousand Oaks quarterback Max Gilliam showed why he will be attending Cal on a football scholarship next year with a spectacular performance. Gilliam completed 16 of 19 passes for 259 yards, including a stretch of 11 completions in a row in the first half. His scrambling ability helped him avoid the Arroyo Grande pass rush all night, and his breakaway speed was on display on a 64-yard touchdown run on third down that put Thousand Oaks up 33-14 with 1:47 left in the third quarter.

Howell Can You Stop Him?: Kevin Howell, Thousand Oak’s other Division I commit, who will suit up for Nevada next season, was an absolute terror in the first half. Howell had 139 of his 197 receiving yards in the first half, including a sprinting 55-yard touchdown for the game’s first score. When Arroyo Grande got close in the third quarter, making it 21-14, Howell took a screen 57 yards for the score to extend Thousand Oak’s lead to 27-14. No doubt that he was the fastest player on the field Friday night.

Cecchi Shines: On Thousand Oak’s first third-down play, Alex Cecchi delivered the hit of the night, and he only got better from there. Cecchi kept Arroyo Grande in the game, rushing for 124 yards and two touchdowns. His 30-yard touchdown run with 6:34 left made it 40-28, and his fumble recovery on the next series by Thousand Oaks led to an Arroyo Grande touchdown a few minutes later to make it 40-35 with 3:39 left. Overall, Thousand Oaks was able to limit the Arroyo Grande rushing attack. Outside of Cecchi, Bradley Mickey and Joey DeLaRosa combined for 94 yards.

May and Bishop: Tight end Joel Bishop was May’s favorite target all night, including on a crucial drive to start the comeback in the second half. Bishop finished the game with five catches for 96 yards. After throwing for 63 yards in the first half, May came alive in the second and led the Eagles up and down the field. May finished the game 20 of 26 for 265 yards, no interceptions and two rushing touchdowns.