Keilan Benjamin threw for 265 yards and Adarius Pickett blocked a field goal and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown to lead El Cerrito High's football team to a 35-7 win over host Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa on Sept. 14.
The Gauchos (2-1) outplayed the Cardinals (2-1) all night, but the score was tied 7-7 at halftime thanks to some tough defense by Cardinal Newman and some missed opportunities for El Cerrito.
"Second half just came down to execution," Benjamin said. "I played bad myself in the first half and stepped it up in the second half."
It should be noted that Benjamin threw for 171 yards in the first half and was victimized by at least four drops by his receivers in the first two quarters.
The Gauchos outgained the Cardinals 456-186 and recorded 22 first downs to eight for the hosts. However, when Benjamin hit Jalen Harvey on a 64-yard bomb with 10 minutes to go in the third quarter, El Cerrito had its first lead of the night at 14-7.
Justus Smith recovered a fumble by Kevin Lucey on the ensuing kickoff, but the Gauchos' ensuing drive ended when Benjamin was intercepted in the end zone by Kacey Mansen. It looked as if El Cerrito's first half troubles were continuing.
The Cardinals then drove almost the length of the field, finally settling for a 32-yard field goal attempt by Trent Klein. However, Pickett burst through on the left side and blocked the kick, then scooped up the ball and ran for the game-turning touchdown.
"I told James Houston to go inside and hit No. 6 (Zach Stoltz)," Pickett said. "I said I was going to block the field goal."
Pickett later scored on a 5-yard run. The Gauchos will now face its first East Bay opponent of the season when it travels to play Campolindo on Sept. 20 at 7 p.m.
St. Mary's 49, Riordan-San Francisco 7: The host Panthers (1-1) rolled past the Crusaders (1-1) with 42 points in the final three quarters on Sept. 14
It was a close game in the first quarter, with the only score coming on a three-yard touchdown run by St. Mary's Lorenzo Logwood. But Panthers quarterback Ian Bonde threw for two touchdown passes in the second quarter, both to Liam Godfrey.
Those two combined for two more touchdowns in the second half. Bonde finished the game with 22 completions for 305 yards, while Godfrey had seven catches for 152 yards and the four touchdowns.
St. Mary's will now face Albany at Cougar Field on Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m.
-- Jen Cosgriff, correspondent
Piedmont 44, Albany 16: The Highlanders' Gabriel Watson electrified the home crowd by returning consecutive kickoffs for touchdowns to open the game and then continued to impress by scoring four more touchdowns via break-away runs in the victory on Sept. 13.
Watson took the game's opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. After an Albany safety, the sophomore returned the Cougars' free kick 75 yards for his second touchdown. Piedmont led 16-0 with 11:09 left on the first quarter clock and Albany had yet to run an offensive play.
The next time Watson touched the ball, he zoomed 27 yards for another touchdown. Watson scored twice more before the half ended, hauling in a 33-yard pass from Spencer Kim and sprinting for a 68-yard touchdown run. Watson finished his night with six touchdowns and 333 all-purpose yards (135 rushing yards).
Piedmont (1-2) led 37-8 at the half. Albany (0-3) scored on a second quarter three-yard run by Jack Johnson and a fourth quarter seven-yard run by Cyrus Wofford.
-- Jim Bucci, correspondent
Berkeley 42, San Mateo 6: Yellowjackets quarterback Noah Suszckiewicz completed 10 of his 15 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns in host Berkeley's victory. Teammate Travis Dennis caught three passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
The Yellowjackets will now host Pittsburg and record-setting running back Harris Ross on Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. Ross ran for a North Coast Section-record 464 yards, and also scored seven touchdowns in the Pirates' 49-29 win over host Monte Vista on Sept. 13.