Benicia 34, Windsor 27: Last-minute defeat for Jaguars

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Windsor's Colin Maclvain slips a tackle for the first down during the Jaguars game against Benicia on Friday, September 6, 2013. (Photo by Conner Jay, The Press Democrat)

Windsor’s Colin Maclvain slips a tackle for the first down during the Jaguars game against Benicia on Friday, September 6, 2013. (Photo by Conner Jay, The Press Democrat)

WINDSOR — A pair of cats clawed until the final seconds with Benicia’s furious finish overcoming Windsor’s fast start for a 34-27 win.

Confident in its ability to close out games, Windsor twice attempted to keep drives alive on fourth down only to come up just short in the final period. The last try set up Benicia 52 yards away with less than two minutes remaining in the game.

The biggest of James Hyde’s three catches on the ensuing drive was the game-winning 24 yard touchdown grab with 18 seconds left on the clock.

Windsor made another big pass play on the arm of Colin McAlvain, but the Jaguars ran out of time. A week earlier, Windsor won the Jaguars’ season opener in the final seconds.

“We gave it our all. We played our hearts out,” said McAlvain, who threw for 275 yards and a pair of scores.

Facing a near mirror image in style across the line of scrimmage, Windsor needed to play fast and disciplined against an athletic Benicia team with some size.

“Our goal as a team is to be competitive each and every game,” Windsor coach Vic Amick said. “Benicia has great team speed. If we don’t do our jobs, they can make big plays.”

Benicia played like a team seeking the school’s eighth playoff spot in the past decade in the always tough Sacramento-San Joaquin Section.

“We just wanted to have a good, solid game,” said Benicia coach Craig Holden. “We played as good as Windsor allowed us to play.”

The contest was a matchup of similar pass-first offenses backed by running games featuring first year starters.

Yet both teams ran the ball often and well, helping to open up the passing games.

In the third quarter Windsor went to prime target Matt Basich on a game tying drive capped by McAlvain’s 19 yard pass to the sure handed receiver. Basich had 11 catches for 115 yards and two scores on the night.

Then the Panthers took the lead back. Taking advantage of a fumbled punt, Benicia went 53 yards on two runs and a pass with the touchdown coming on Drae Randolph’s 8-yard scamper around the right side.

Also seizing opportunity off a rare turnover, Windsor answered with back Christian Roberge providing a spark after running only once in the first half. Roberge caught a pass and ran twice, totaling 42 yards including the touchdown from 8 yards out to tie the contest at 27-27.

“Our coaches made great second half adjustments and the players just got it done,” McAlvain said.

Windsor’s defense would limit Benicia to one first down on the next two drives. Leading the men in black were linebackers Hunter Sollom and Dmitri Aken.

So sure of their defense was Windsor that twice in the final period the Jaguars elected not to punt on fourth down despite long yardage needed to keep the drives alive. Both times McAlvain was stopped a yard short on scrambles.

The second time proved to be the game breaker.

After bottling up playmaker Hyde much of the second half, Windsor couldn’t account for him on the deciding drive. Ahead of last year’s pace, when he totaled nearly 1,000 receiving yards with 11 touchdowns for the Panthers, the speedster snagged three passes and added ample yards after the catches including the game winner from 24 yards out.

Making the loss more difficult to take was that Windsor took control in both halves.

Seeking strong starts after falling into a deep hole last week, Windsor had a 14-0 lead in the first half Friday. Then the Jaguars outscored the Panthers before the game-deciding drive.

“Football’s a total game of momentum,” McAlvain said. “They made the last play.”

You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or mike.coit@pressdemocrat.com.

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