Greyhounds route Tigers: Machado and Cross each rush for over 100 yards

ATASCADERO— It was homecoming this week in Atascadero as the Greyhounds welcomed in the San Luis Obispo Tigers on Friday night. New and old alums descended upon Memorial Stadium Friday to watch their Greyhounds get a victory and to watch the elaborate halftime show that Atascadero is able to put on year after year. The halftime show kicked off all the action on Friday even with it coming after two-quarters of play. The Greyhounds defense kept the Tigers quiet the entire game and shut them out in the first half after blocking a 34-yard Tigers field goal attempt in the first quarter. As has been the case most of the year, the Greyhounds defense is the catalyst that led to their offense.

After Cullen Cooper made a great play breaking up a pass on third down where he came off of man coverage to make the play on the ball, the Atascadero offense came out energized and constructed their best drive on the first half, scoring via a Machado 29-yard scamper.

Friday’s game came with three bizarre calls — one just an odd play, one a controversial ruling and one that was clearly the wrong call. The first of these three calls came just before the end of the second quarter as the Hounds were trying to score and put momentum on their side going into halftime. The Hounds were in the redzone and taking their shots into the endzone because they were out of timeouts. On third down, Zack Davis came out of the back field, faked like he was running to the flats and broke back inside between the linebackers and Cade VanAllen hit him with the ball for what looked like a touchdown. The stands began hooting and hollering, it was the perfect way to segway into the halftime show. Then confusion washed over everyone as the Hounds lined up for another play. The officials had gathered together and deemed that Davis let the ball hit the ground and didn't catch it. It was certainly a bang-bang play, but we have video of the play (in the update video embedded with this article) and it seems that Davis might have caught the touchdown, albeit our angle is from behind him. Rather than try a short field goal, Head Coach Vic Cooper elected to take one more shot at six and called for an endzone fade that fell incomplete.

The Greyhound homecoming was Disney-themed and well choreographed. Students danced to all kinds of different iconic disney songs from a variety of films ranging from the old classics such as, “The Little Mermaid,” to new blockbusters such as, “Moana.” After the king and queen were crowned, the Greyhounds charged back out onto the field and kept the fireworks going as Davis promptly returned the second half kickoff 56 yards. A nice run from Machado set the Hounds up inside the ten yard line as they were looking to take a 14-point lead. On the next play, the Hounds ran the option. As VanAllen drew the nearest defender he flipped the ball out to Machado who looked to have the corner. In a bizarre play, Machado dropped the pitch and accidently kicked it forward. The ball bounced over the goal line, into the endzone and then out of bounds, resulting in a touchback.

Going from potentially two scores down, to having the ball at the 20-yard line, still down just seven gave the Tigers offense life. After the turnover the Tigers drove 80 yards and capped off the drive with a touchdown run, tying the game at seven.

That was as close as the game would get as the Hounds offensive line started enforcing their will on the undersized Tigers. Atascadero started using both tight ends, Seth Robasciotti and Kamren Brown and running directly behind them. Cooper began bludgeoning the Tiger defense with physical runs from fullback Cross, then would call  Machado’s number as a change of pace to run past the tired defenders. Both ball carriers finished the evening with more than 100 yards rushing. Machado finished with 157 yards rushing and two touchdowns while Cross finished with 118 yards and a touchdown of his own. As all teams do against the Hounds, the Tigers left their corners on an island as they filled the box trying to stop the run, but they simply didn't have big enough men to stop the Hounds.

The last strange call, which was flat-out wrong, came after the Hounds scored at the start of the fourth quarter, giving them a 21-0 lead. On the kickoff after the score Atascadero kicked the ball high and angled it toward the sidelines, forcing the SLO receiver to wave his hand over his head, declaring a fair catch. While the ball was still high in the air, the referee began blowing his whistle, signifying that the play was dead, but the play wasn't dead yet because the ball was still in the air. The Tiger receiver dropped the ball and the Hounds recovered. With less than six minutes to go in the game, it seemed over. Then the referees announced that there was an inadvertent whistle, and because they blew the whistle prematurely, the play did not stand. Atascadero had to rekick the ball, and this time SLO caught it.

The Atascadero defense charged onto the field determined to get the ball back to their offense, and that's exactly what they did. A bad snap on first down put the Tigers in an early hole. After a short gain on second, SLO faced a third and long and needed to pass. On third down the SLO quarterback tried to force a ball down field to his receiver and cornerback Wyatt McKenzie jumped in front, intercepting the ball and returning it to the Tigers 33 yard line.

On the very first offensive play after the turnover, VanAllen went up top connecting with Cade Sokolowski on a deep 33 yard touchdown pass, giving the Greyhounds the insurmountable lead.

Atascadero was able to add one more score late when they called a trick play to get one of their senior lineman into the endzone. Alex Cooper lined up as a tackle-eligible and was thrown the ball on a screen and as he rumbled past the goal line he simultaneously  fulfilled every lineman's ultimate dream, scoring a touchdown.  

The Hounds won the game 35-14 which brings their overall record to 3-5 on the season and 1-1 in PAC 5. Atascadero will host Arroyo Grande this Friday at seven as they try to make up ground on the league leader and their bitter rival Paso Robles.

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