Close football games often hinge on special-teams play, and Oakland High's Maurice Green proved that in the visiting Wildcats' 25-20 victory over Mt. Eden on Friday.
Green blocked a punt with less than five minutes remaining in the game, setting up Oakland's go-ahead touchdown on a 9-yard pass from Kevin Iem to Devonte Blackston with 3:30 to go. Iem scored the eventual game-winning touchdown on a 10-yard run with 1:36 left.
"It was a game turner for us," said Oakland coach Jayce Goree about Green's blocked punt. "Our kids played hard."
Oakland (2-0) had trailed from the first offensive play, an 80-yard run by Mt. Eden's Devante McGowan. He finished with a game-high 170 yards rushing.
But the Wildcats didn't let Mt. Eden's lead get past seven points at any part of the game, The Monarchs (2-2) held a 14-13 lead at halftime and the end of the third quarter.
Blackston's touchdown grab put Oakland in front, and Iem's 10-yard scoring run gave the Wildcats a 25-14 lead.
Mt. Eden backup quarterback Giovanni Remmen raced to a 69-yard touchdown run with 58 seconds remaining, but Oakland controlled the onside kick and Iem knelt to run out the clock. Tyler Reynolds had a team-high 106 yards rushing for the Wildcats.
Mt. Eden starting quarterback Guadelupe Rico was attended by paramedics on the field after an apparent injury during a sack with 2:25 to play. He was taken by ambulance to Kaiser Hospital-Hayward, Monarchs coach Paul
"He was moving everything when he left (the field)," Perenon said. "He was moving his feet, he was moving his hands."
Oakland 25, Mt. Eden 20
Oakland 7 6 0 12-- 25
Mt. Eden 14 0 0 6-- 20
ME -- McGowan 80 run (Estaban kick)
O -- Iem 3 run (Sanchez kick)
ME -- Fat 19 pass from Rico (Estaban kick)
O -- Sanchez 10 pass from Iem (kick failed)
O -- Blackston 9 pass from Iem (pass failed)
O -- Iem 10 run (run failed)
ME -- Remmen 69 run (run failed)
Rushing: O -- Reynolds 14-105, Iem 22-42, Pittman 1-17, Blackston 5-16, Custard 3-9. Totals 45-189. ME -- McGowan 21-170, Remmen 1-69, Sibley 1-9, Gindlesberger 1-0, Thomas 3-(-4), Rico 3-(-14). Totals 30-230. Passing: O -- Iem 7-9-0-77. ME -- Rico 3-10-0-39. Receiving: O -- Sanchez 3-27, Booker 2-38, Blackston 2-12. Totals 7-77. ME -- Fat 1-19, Gindlesberger 1-13, Keeling Jr. 1-7. Totals 3-39. Fumbles/lost: O -- 3/1; ME -- 1/0. Records: Oakland 2-0, Mt. Eden 2-2.