MORAGA -- The visiting El Cerrito High football team used big play after big play to spoil Campolindo's heretofore undefeated season, beating the Cougars 49-34 on Friday night and advancing to the North Coast Section Division III championship game.

Campolindo (11-1) had defeated El Cerrito 42-27 on Sept. 20.

The Gauchos will play the winner of Saturday's other Division III semifinal between No. 4 Analy and No. 1 Marin Catholic in the championship game Dec. 6 at Burrell Field in San Leandro. El Cerrito lost to Marin Catholic 31-28 in the NCS Division III title game in one of the more entertaining contests of last season.

"We've got a lot of athletes," Gauchos quarterback Keilan Benjamin said. "If they try to stack the box and they split the hole, it's pretty much grass for us."

Or, in the case of the Cougars home field, artificial turf. Benjamin completed 10 of 18 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns. But the real star was Jalen Harvey, who caught touchdown passes of 50 and 18 yards and returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown.

More impressive was the performance of the El Cerrito defense. Campolindo came into the game averaging 35 points per game. Although the final score almost hit the number, that was misleading. The Cougars scored a late touchdown on Friday, recovered an onside kick, then scored another touchdown.

Prior to those final two drives, Campolindo had just eight first downs in the game and just two in the second half. The Gauchos (11-2) sacked quarterback Andrew Zolintakis five times and pressured him countless others. Zolintakis hung in there, completing his final seven passes of the game to finish 15 of 21 for 290 yards and four touchdowns.


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"They definitely put some pressure on me," Zolintakis said. "More than last game so it made it a little more difficult."

Division III semifinal El Cerrito 49, Campolindo 34

El Cerrito 0 14 20 15-- 49

Campolindo 0 7 14 13-- 34

EC -- Calhoun 15 pass from Keil. Benjamin (T. Smith kick)

C -- Petite 8 pass from Zolintakis (Antezana kick)

EC -- Keith Benjamin 39 run (T. Smith kick)

EC -- Harvey 50 pass from Keil. Benjamin (T. Smith kick)

C -- Christian 8 run (Antezana kick)

EC -- Houston 38 run (T. Smith kick)

EC -- Pickett 62 run (kick failed)

C -- Kilwien 60 pass from Zolintakis (Antezana kick)

EC -- Harvey 18 pass from Keil. Benjamin (Keil. Benjamin run)

EC -- Harvey 73 punt return (T. Smith kick)

C -- Christian 12 run (Antezana kick)

C -- Dunn 22 pass from Zolintakis (run failed)

Rushing: EC -- Pickett 14-135, Keil. Benjamin 12-66, Houston 6-65, Keit. Benjamin 2-45, J. Smith 1-2, Team 2-(-2). Totals: 37-311. C -- Christian 7-30, Remotto 6-14, McNally 1-3, Fadelli 7-2, Zolintakis 7-(-24). Totals: 28-25. Passing: EC -- Keil. Benjamin 10-18-0-154. C -- Zolintakis 15-21-0 290. Receiving: EC -- Harvey 3-86, Pickett 3-34, Keit. Benjamin 2-14, Calhoun 1-15, Pippins 1-5. Totals: 10-154. C -- Dunn 5-134, Petite 3-36, Christian 2-29, Remotto 2-18, Rosenbaum 2-13, Kilwien 1-60. Totals: 15-290. Fumbles/lost: EC -- 0/0. Campo -- 1/1. Records: El Cerrito 11-2, Campolindo 11-1.