MODESTO — The East Union defense was able to bottle up Gregori’s high-octane attack and its star running back for a half Friday night at Don Lanphear Stadium.
It turns out the Jaguars, who averaged 44.7 points in their first three contests, have other game-breaking athletes not named Demetrius Vinson. Trailing 7-0 at halftime, Gregori rallied for a 28-point outburst in the third quarter and swiftly turned a back-and-forth slugfest into a resounding 42-15 nonleague victory.
Vinson is an impressive 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior who wowed scouts at a Nike Combine last May. East Union (1-2) held him to just 19 yards rushing in the first half, 16 of which came on a lateral swing pass. He did break a nice 20-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to finish with 50 yards on six carries, but on this night the spotlight belonged to other Jaguars.
Gregori quarterback Cam Calton completed 10 straight passes at one point and ended up 11 of 14 for 110 yards and three touchdowns (two rushing). Shifty fullback Jonathan Duggan (5 rushes, 78 yards) added two touchdowns, one of which came on a 45-yard pass play. Matt Vargas, a 6-2, 210-pound tight end, hauled in seven passes for 55 yards but had a 78-yard touchdown reception negated by a penalty in the opening quarter.
Hagan O’Brian helped keep Gregori (3-1) rolling with a 39-yard scamper late in the third quarter, and Gabe Samuels showed off his burst of speed on a 15-yard touchdown run that capped the Jaguars’ scoring.
“Vinson is a heck of a ball player and he’s as good as advertised, but we do have (other weapons),” Gregori coach Jason McCoy said. “In this offense we want to be able to spread the wealth so that teams can’t key on Vinson too much. That kid is fun to watch and he’s the real deal, but we’d like to keep him healthy. It’s nice to have the options we do have.”
Gregori scored 42 unanswered points in the second half before East Union’s Jack Weaver hooked up with Austin Miller (6 receptions, 71 yards) for a 22-yard touchdown with 1:18 remaining.
It was a tale of two halves for both teams. They each were limited to just 59 yards of offense over the first two quarters, but a 2-yard TD toss to Marcus Panelo gave East Union its halftime advantage.
East Union had just 27 yards on the ground overall. Weaver completed 12 of 21 pass attempts for 123 yards but threw second-half picks to Byrce Lowe and James Allen. Gregori, meanwhile, finished with 329 yards as missed tackles plagued East Union in the second half.
“We still haven’t put four full quarters together,” East Union coach Willie Herrera said. “That’s a good ballclub, but we believe that we’re a good ballclub too and we’ve proven it to ourselves. It’s just frustrating. We have some young guys, but we have to learn from this. We can’t keep making the same mistakes over and over, especially against a good team.”
The Jaguars were their own worst enemy in the first half, as they committed nine penalties. Two of them, a pass interference infraction followed immediately by unsportsmanlike conduct, were called on a fourth-and-11 play that allowed the Lancers to take a lead.
Gregori could have earlier kept the Lancers off the board. East Union’s Matthew Higginson attempted a 37-yard field goal but had it blocked by Lowe. The Jaguars recovered the ball but fumbled it on the return. Weaver came up with the ball and a new set of downs in the red zone for East Union.
“On defense we were holding them but we were giving them extra opportunities,” McCoy said. “They’re a grinding team that milks the clock. We only had three possessions in the first half and that was huge. I’m sure that was their game plan was to keep our offense off the field because we have a pretty explosive offense. Thank goodness there are four quarters in a game. We faced some adversity but stuck with it.”