Windsor struggles but stays perfect

For The Press Democrat

Friday night’s 10-7 grind-it-out victory by the visiting Jaguars over Montgomery was no masterpiece, but it was enough to keep Windsor (6-0, 3-0) undefeated and retain a share of the top NBL top -spot. The Vikings, on the other hand, will drop to the middle of the pack in league standings.

“The game wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win and we will take it any way we can get it,” Windsor (6-0, 3-0) coach Vic Amick said. “We have a lot of mistakes to clean up.”

Windsor quarterback Jalen Roman breaks into the clear. (Press Democrat / Kent Porter)

Windsor quarterback Jalen Roman breaks into the clear. (Press Democrat / Kent Porter)

It was Montgomery (2-4, 1-2) that burned itself with costly mistakes at the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the third quarter, leading to the key stretch of the game.

With the Jaguars leading 3-0 courtesy of a 25-yard field goal in the first quarter by Gedi Tavares, the Vikings put together an impressive 75-yard drive in the final minute of the first half. The drive stalled, however, and Montgomery lined up for a 22-yard field goal attempt by Jordan Page. The snap was slightly high and it went through the holder’s hands for a blown opportunity.

The Vikings did not convert the long drive into any points, giving Windsor momentum going into the half.

“We got a big stop defensively at the end of the half,” Amick said. “They make that field goal and it’s a different game.”
Montgomery coach Marcello Bautista concurred: “That missed field goal hurt, but we had our opportunities. Then in the second half we threw an interception and let Windsor score on the next play.”

To wit, the Vikings retained possession to start the second half, but three plays in Montgomery quarterback Richard Flores was intercepted by Windsor’s Evan Legaspi at the 50-yard line.

On the next play, Jaguars quarterback Jalen Roman had a rarity — time to sit in the pocket — and took advantage. Roman aired out a long bomb to a streaking Tavares, who beat double coverage for the 50-yard touchdown and a 10-0 Windsor lead.

“It was a hitch-and-go route and I have complete faith in Gedi. He is a track guy,” Roman said. “I threw it and knew he scored when I heard the crowd cheer.”

Both quarterbacks were under duress much of the night. Roman (87-187, 8478 yards passing) was slowed by an ailing foot and Montgomery dialed up the defensive blitz frequently to pressure him on passes and keep him contained on the ground (16 rushes for 36 yards).

“We knew he was slowed up and we wanted to put some pressure on him,” Montgomery coach Marcello Bautista said.

“Our offensive line did not play well tonight to say the least,” Amick said. “They made a lot of mistakes and didn’t execute like in practice.”

Meanwhile, Windsor’s defensive front kept Montgomery’s offense under lock-and-key most of the night, included sacking Flores (15-32, 173 yards) four times and flushing him from the pocket at critical times.

“Windsor is big up front defensively,” Bautista said. “Our offense struggled but they played better than the last few games. Flores played better then he has in previous games.”

Montgomery trailed 10-0 until 5:41 left in the fourth quarter when the Vikings put together an 85-yard drive, culminating in a 2-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak by Flores.

The Vikings had one last shot with three minutes to go as they took possession at their own 38-yard line. Several Windsor defensive sacks and a costly offensively interference penalty against the Vikings led to a 4th-and-30 and Montgomery was forced to punt. Windsor salted away the remaining 1:31 to seal the win.

“Our defense stepped up big tonight,” Roman said.

“Our defense won the game, that was pretty evident,” Amick said. “Montgomery is a good football club.”

The Vikings were left with the empty feeling of losing a game they know they could have won.

“Windsor is a good team. It was a good high school football game,” Bautista said. “If we minimized our mistakes the game would have had a different outcome.”