The Miramonte Matadors of Orinda quickly took control of Saturday night’s game against the Millennium Falcons, taking the 48-6 win.
The Falcons (3-5, 1-2 Central California Athletic Alliance) had expected their non-league matchup against the Matadors (5-3, 1-1 Diablo-Foothill League) to be an important test as they stay in the hunt for playoffs.
“We knew that they were a good team because they beat one of our division rivals (Brookside Christian) pretty bad, so we knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Millennium junior quarterback Caden Duke. “We started off slow but we fought through the whole game. The game seemed a lot closer than what the score said.”
The Falcons covered 322 yards of offense, including 253 yards passing for Duke as he completed 11 of 21 passes. Senior Gio Rangel Andrino ran the ball for 77 yards on 10 carries.
The Matador defensive line also was effective in throwing Duke for losses with three sacks, while on offense Miramonte totaled 474 yards, including 146 yards rushing and 328 yards passing for senior quarterback Matt Meredith, who completed 17 of 24 passes.
The Matadors scored on their first three possessions. Miramonte junior Aiden Browne scored on a 10-yard run. Millennium answered by covering 72 yards on three plays, including a pass from Duke to junior Jacey Zuniga. Zuniga nearly made it to the end zone, but a Miramonte tackler forced a fumble and the ball bounced out of the back of the end zone for a touchback.
It gave Miramonte 80 yards to cover, and they did it on a pass from Meredith to senior Reed Callister, who ran the ball all the way in for the score. The Matadors scored again at the start of the second quarter on a 3-yard run for Browne.
The Falcons bounced right back. Duke completed a pass to senior Josh Marlin,who ran it 69 yards for the score, cutting Miramonte’s lead to 20-6. The Matadors scored once more in the second quarter, a 9-yard pass from Meredith to Callister, to make it a 27-6 game.
The Falcons got another big opportunity at the end of the second quarter when junior Jakob Garcia intercepted a pass in the end zone, which brought the ball back out to the 20-yard line. From there Duke completed a pass up the middle to Marlin, who broke to the left sideline and then back to the middle for a 72-yard play, bringing the ball to the Miramonte 8-yard line before the Matadors chased him down. The Falcons were able to make only more two plays, advancing only 1 yard, before the first-half clock ran out.
Marlin said afterward that the Falcons needed their best efforts to stay in the game.
“We knew they were a good team, so we came out expecting to just try to pummel the ball down the field,” Marlin said. “They just came out harder, stronger, faster. They wanted the ball more and wanted to score more.”
Miramonte’s Browne scored on an 8-yard run at the start of the third quarter, and the Matadors threatened to score on their next possession when Zuniga intercepted a pass. The Falcons could not capitalize on the opportunity, and Miramonte had a short field for their next drive, including a 9-yard touchdown run for Meredith to make it a 41-6 game at the start of the fourth quarter. Miramonte scored once more in the fourth on a 2-yard run for Meredith.
The Falcons have two more regular season games, including Friday against Immanuel High of Reedley at Tracy High on Friday, and then against Stone Ridge Christian in Merced on Nov. 1, with both of them key games if Millennium is to advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
Millennium coach LaVale Woods said Saturday’s game gave him a chance to see who will step up to fill key roles over the next two weeks.
“Just like every team we’re battling injuries and everybody is shuffling to get things right,” he said. “We just had to make some adjustments and do some things, but the guys worked hard. We just get in our own way a lot, but we’re a young team and that can happen, and it does happen.”
Rangel Andrino added that the Falcons are now playing to extend their season, and even with the loss on Saturday he sees the potential for the Falcons to do that.
“What I like is we fight through the whole thing,” he said. “We have to at least get one win to make it to playoffs. We’re going to keep our playoff hopes alive, and I think we can do that.”