EL SOBRANTE -- It took all of 13 seconds for the Gauchos to set the tone for their opener in the NCS Division III playoffs, as senior defensive back Adarius Pickett returned the game's opening kickoff for a touchdown as third-seeded El Cerrito (9-2) routed the Red-Tailed Hawks (6-5) at De Anza High on Friday.

El Cerrito will face the winner of Saturday's Encinal-Novato matchup next week.

Against Tamalpais, El Cerrito scored 36 points in the first quarter and 28 in the second. The final two quarters were played with a running clock.

"I'm happy with the outcome tonight," El Cerrito coach Kenny Kahn said.

Pickett added two more touchdown runs in the first half and quarterback Keilan Benjamin connected with Marquis Pippins on a 24-yard scoring play to give the Gauchos a 22-8 lead with 3:44 left in the first quarter.

Tamalpais, seeded No. 14 in the Division III playoffs this year, was led by running back Aseal Barir. He had 65 yards on 17 carries and his team's only touchdown, a 47-yard run in the opening quarter.

For El Cerrito, senior receiver Keith Benjamin added a 48-yard punt return and receiver mate Jalen Harvey raced 43 yards with a fumble recovery for touchdowns.

Division III El Cerrito 64, Tamalpais 8

Tamalpais 0 8 0 0-- 8

El Cerrito 36 28 0 0-- 64


Advertisement

EC -- Pickett 84 kickoff return (Smith kick)

EC -- Pickett 12 run (Smith kick)

T -- Birir 47 run (Birir run)

EC -- Pippins 24 pass from Keilan Benjamin (Smith kick)

EC -- Pickett 13 run (Smith kick)

EC -- Keith Benjamin 48 punt return (Smith kick)

EC -- Keilan Benjamin 9 run (Smith kick)

EC -- Houston 3 run (Smith kick)

EC -- Dunbar 3 run (Smith kick)

EC -- Harvey 43 fumble return (Smith kick)

Rushing: T -- Birir 17-65, Thomas 1-12, B. Daniels 2-7,Burch 2-6, Viscardi 3-(-2), Shore 2-(-5), Lazarus 2-(-10). Totals 29-73. EC -- Houston 5-86, Pickett 5-34, Keilan Benjamin 5-30, Dyer-Hogan 2-28, Harris 1-6, Smith 1-4, Keith Benjamin 1-(-1), Pippins 1-(-2), Jones 3-(-10). Totals 24- 144. Passing: T -- Lazarus 2-11-1 43, Shore 1-1-0 3. Totals 3-12-1 46. EC -- Keilan Benjamin 7-13-0 156, Pippins 0-1-0 0. Totals 7-14-0 156. Receiving: T -- Green 1-24, K. Daniels 1-19, Burch 1-3. EC -- Keith Benjamin 2-59, Pippins 2-48, Harrison 1-27, Harvey 2-22. Fumbles/lost: Tamalpais -- 1/1; El Cerrito -- 1/0. Records: Tamalpais 6-5, El Cerrito 9-2.