Maria Carrillo routs Piner, 41-8

Maria Carrillo's Cody Giles breaks up a pass intended for Piner's Shane Riveras on Saturday at Piner High School.

Maria Carrillo’s football team was fooled by Piner’s trickery in the first quarter of Saturday’s game, and fell behind because of it.

The Pumas didn’t fall for razzle-dazzle in the final three quarters, however, and they walked away with a 41-8 victory over the home team.

Piner entered the game winless, and coach Matt Tomlin knew his team would have to catch Carrillo by surprise to have a chance. So, after the Pumas grabbed a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game, Piner went into its bag of tricks.

First, wide receiver Cameron Eisenhauer took a lateral and, after a step or two forward, stopped to throw a pass to wide-open Shane Riveras. That was good for 40 yards. A few plays later, Tomlin called a reverse that had wide receiver Elias Dehmes come back to get the ball and carry it to the 1. On the next play, Stephen Roca bulled his way into the end zone.

Trailing 7-6, Piner lined up to kick an extra point. However, the ball went to Eisenhauer before the stunned Pumas defense figured out it was a fake. The junior strolled in for the two-point conversion and the Prospectors led, 8-7.

That must have gotten the attention of Carrillo coach Jay Higgins and his players, as the Pumas scored the game’s final 34 points.

They reclaimed the lead with 3:51 left in the first quarter on a one-yard run by Jake Delfino. After carrying the ball for 65 yards on the drive, Zack Bluestone also got the two-point conversion, racing around the end.

Carrillo increased its lead to 28-8 by halftime and thwarted several more trick plays by Piner.

“I wanted to see our guys play hard for four quarters and keep their mental focus,” coach Higgins said. “They came pretty darn close to doing that.”

The Pumas are 2-3, having lost to Sonoma County League powerhouses Casa Grande (28-13) and Windsor (10-9) and conference foe Cardinal Newman (28-0).

“We lost a couple of games because of mental breakdowns, and then we didn’t play well at all against Newman,” Higgins said. “So, it was nice to get a win like this.”

Quarterback Sam Atoe tossed three touchdown passes, two to Mark Miller and one to Will Mede. He also rushed six times for 42 yards and led the defense with eight tackles.

Tomlin put a positive spin on the game, even though it was his team’s fifth straight loss.

“I feel we’re so close to getting over the hump,” he said. “We fought hard, especially in the first quarter. It’s been the same story all year. We don’t force our opponents to punt often enough. We give up too many long gainers and long touchdowns. We haven’t been able to stop our opponents. Part of the problem is lack of depth, but we’ll continue to work hard.”

The Prospectors are yielding 53 points per game.

It was a good afternoon for Roca. Besides scoring Piner’s touchdown, he was crowned homecoming king at halftime.

Both teams play this Friday, Maria Carrillo hosting Santa Rosa while Piner visits Montgomery.