By Frank Smith
San Manuel Miner
The San Manuel Miners varsity football team hosted Benson on Friday night at Fred Littau Field. The Miners could not hold onto the Bobcats as San Manuel took a tough 6-13 loss dropping them to 0 – 2 on the season.
San Manuel had several opportunities and could not capitalize on them late in the game but they did keep battling to the final whistle.
In the first quarter, the Miners had the opening drive and punted the ball away after six plays; Benson took over at their own 20 yard line after the Shane Kelly punt.
The Bobcats wasted no time, taking their opening drive in for the score – Benson drove down field 80 yards in 10 plays taking 6:18 off the clock. Benson capped off the drive when quarterback Travis Barney called his own number taking the ball up the middle of the Miners defense for the 12 yard touchdown run. The Point After Touchdown kick was good by Blake Rhodes for a 7 – 0 Benson lead with 2:49 left in the first quarter.
The Miners went three and out on their next possession to give the ball back to the Bobcats after the punt.
San Manuel’s defense shut down the Bobcats offense on a three and out to give the ball back to the Miners after the punt.
In the second quarter, the Miners began the drive from their own 31 yard line; on the first play from the line of scrimmage, quarterback Bryan Valdez faked the hand off to running back Shane Kelly and rolled left on a bootleg connecting with a streaking wide receiver Alvaro Alvarez for the 31 yard touchdown pass. The Miners opted to go for the two point conversion which was stopped by the Benson defense for a 7 – 6 Bobcat lead with 10:24 in the quarter. San Manuel drove 31 yards in one play taking :08 on the drive.
On the next possession for the Bobcats, the Miners defense stepped up to shut down the Benson offense with a key quarterback sack from defensive end Anthony Garcia on a third down and 10 to go, the sack dropped the Bobcats back 10 yards and forced the punt on a fourth down and 20 to go.
The Miners started off at their own 19 yard line and marched the ball down the Benson 45 yard line in five plays but after a few plays for a loss and quarterback sack – San Manuel was set back forcing the punt after 11 plays.
With :20 seconds left before the half, Benson lined up at the Miners 47 yard line after a good return from the Bobcats return man. The first play went for an incomplete pass with the Miners recovering a fumble on the next play as the Bobcats quarterback and running back fumbled the exchange.
The Miners set up at the Bobcats 40 yard line with :05 on the clock, the first play went for an incomplete pass and the second play ended in a quarterback sack to take the game into halftime with the score Benson 7 – San Manuel 6.
In the third quarter, the Bobcats drove the ball down to the Miners 12 yard line on 11 yards after Benson converted on a fake punt to keep the drive alive. On the 12th play of the drive, once again the quarterback and the running back fumbled the exchange, giving the ball back to the Miners at their own 12 yard line. San Manuel would go three and out, having to punt the ball away.
Benson lined up at the San Manuel 42 yard line. The Miners defense was called off sides on the first play of the Bobcats drive. On the second play of the drive, safety Bryan Valdez dove in front of the Benson pass for the interception at the Miners 26 yard line. The Miners were forced to punt three plays later.
In the fourth quarter, this time Benson would capitalize on the drive as they started out at their own 22 yard and marched the ball down field 78 yards in five plays for the score. Once again, quarterback Barney called his own number for the 51 yard touchdown run down the left side of the Miners defense. The PAT kick was no good as the snap was fumbled for a 13 – 6 Benson lead with 10:18 left in the game.
The Miners began the next drive from their own 41 yard line but after several losses on each play, San Manuel faced a long fourth down and 27 to go for the first and were forced to put but the snap was fumbled giving the ball back to Benson deep into Miner territory at the 32 yard line. Defensive end Garcia dropped the quarterback for a four yard loss on the first play of the drive, two plays later the Bobcats fumbled the ball and defensive lineman Antonio Montes recovered the ball at the Miners 17 yard line.
Both teams would exchange punts and turnovers until the Bobcats would have the last possession of the game with :32 left in the game and took a knee to end the game and take the win 13 – 6.
Offensively, on the ground- Shane Kelly rushed 14 times for 45 yards. In the air – Bryan Valdez went 5 for 14 for 72 yards and one Touchdown. Hauling in the passes were Alvaro Alvarez who caught two passes for 39 yards and one touchdown, and Richard Romo caught three passes for 33 yards.
Defensively, Armando Sierra had seven tackles, Richard Romo had five tackles, Anthony Garcia had five tackles including one sack and one fumble recovery, Bryan Valdez had four tackles and one interception, and Jonathan Croci, Shane Kelly, and Alvaro Alvarez each had four tackles.
Head Coach Steve Elmore said, “It was a tough loss this week. We were in it the entire game, even down to our last series on offense. The guys battled as hard as they could, but a couple mistakes came back to beat us in the end. We will work even harder this week for our game at Tombstone.”
The Miners will travel down to Tombstone to take on the Yellow Jackets on Friday night. Game time is slated for 7 p.m. (The game will be played at Tombstone High School’s new field not at the old football field in town.)