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Scots blow out Horizon

November 25, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

CALEXICO — If there was any question about just how good the Vincent Memorial High football team actually is, all questions were answered Friday as it embarrassed the defending CIF San Diego Section Division IV champion Horizon 38-6 in the playoff quarterfinals at Ward Field here.

Capitalizing on mistakes, Vincent outplayed the defending champs in every facet to earn a spot in the division semifinals.

"Horizon is a very strong team, so what we wanted to do at the beginning of the game was score early and just stop their (passing) game," said Scot quarterback Mickey Montaño. "This was a big win for us and I think that this is our year."

Montaño and his teammates made a strong case for this being their year, outgaining the Panthers 403-180 and forcing six turnovers.

Montaño finished 7-for-14 for 182 yards passing, combined with 38 yards rushing and three touchdowns, including aerial touchdown strikes of 53 and 33 yards, both to Juan Roman Lopez.


Vincent offensive coordinator Anthony Likos said the game plan was to run first to help set up the passing game.

"Most of the teams in San Diego are passing teams, so we knew that Horizon hadn't seen much running this year," said Likos. "We wanted to establish the run early so we'd be able to set up the pass and we were able to do that. After that, we were able to come back with some multiple back sets and then get our receivers more involved.

"Right now I think we're a better team than we were last year because of Mickey and also because of our running backs," said Likos. "A lot of credit has to go to our running backs coach, Mike Torres. All the work that he's put in has really gotten our backs prepared."

The Scots outrushed the Panthers 221-107. Leading the Vincent ground game were Eric Ruiz with 76 yards and a 51-yard score, Juan Roman Lopez with 50 yards rushing, Jose Ramon Lopez with 48 rushing yards and Montaño with his 38.

While the offense put points on the board, the key to the Scots' victory was their defense — which aside from a 55-yard touchdown run by Jeff Berry in the fourth quarter — dominated the Panthers. Manuel Padilla finished with nine solo tackles and Jose Ramon Lopez had three interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Of the six forced turnovers, Vincent returned two for touchdowns, both in the second quarter.

Up 7-0 after Montaño's 53-yard pass to Juan Roman Lopez in the first quarter, Jose Ramon Lopez picked off Panther quarterback Matt Pirtle and returned the interception 35 yards for the score with 5 minutes, 46 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

A few minutes later, Pirtle was met in the backfield by Daniel Soria, who stripped Pirtle of the ball at the Horizon 2-yard line and took it into the end zone for another defensive touchdown.

Of Vincent's 38 points, 24 came off Panther turnovers.

Another score was set up by a Jose Ramon Lopez 65-yard interception return. With Horizon deep in Scot territory, Lopez picked off a Pirtle pass at the 1-yard line and returned it to the Panther 34.

Two plays later Montaño hooked up with Juan Roman Lopez from 33 yards for Vincent's third score of the second quarter with 21 seconds remaining in the half.

"Vincent played a good game on offense and defense," said Horizon coach Chris Johnson. "We just made too many mistakes out there. You can't make that many mistakes against a team like that."

The teams were scoreless in the third quarter but got the scoreboard rolling again in the fourth, combining for three more scores in less than a minute.

About 26 seconds after a Montaño 1-yard plunge for a score, the lone Panther highlight came on Berry's 55-yard scamper to pay dirt with 9:28 remaining in the game.

On the Scots play after the kickoff return, Eric Ruiz raced 51 yards for Vincent's final score. Montaño added the extra point to give the Scots their 38-6 lead.

The win gives Vincent a date with No. 1-seed Santa Fe Christian on Friday.

"First of all, it feels great being able to beat last year's champs," said Vincent coach Jaime Santos. "Next week we're going to have a darn good game on our hands.

"We beat Santa Fe in last year's playoffs, but that is not the same team. They're a really good team, but I think we're up for it. This is going to be one of those David versus Goliath games."

Vincent will play Santa Fe Christian at 7:30 p.m. Friday at a neutral site to be determined.

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