The Greyhounds have a knack for winning games in the most riveting style this season. Their first win came in overtime, and this week they picked up their second in a game that was so close fans were scared to leave their seats in order to go to the bathroom. Up only six points at the start of the fourth quarter, and with the Greyhound offense disappearing in the second half, an all too familiar feeling began washing over the fans in attendance as the clocked ticked down and Pioneer Valley was forced to air it out.
Panthers quarterback Matthew Garcia barely missed his receivers on multiple hitch and go routes and once the Pioneer Valley found themselves in a second and almost 40 situation, Greyhounds fans were starting to experience deja vu from the week before when Madera faced a similar situation with only a minute to go in the half. Last week Madera was able to convert the first down and ended up scoring a deep touchdown with only seven seconds on the clock, but the Greyhounds defense learned from their mistakes and this time slammed the door shut on the comeback attempt. The defense forced the Panthers to punt, but an unfortunate bounce gave the Hounds the ball inside their own five yard line. With only around four minutes to go in the game, a few Atascadero first downs would have ended the game. After no gain on first down and only advancing the ball a few yards on second the Hounds eventually had to punt from their own end zone, giving the Panthers the ball and fantastic field position with a chance to win the game. As fans grew worried, the nervousness in the stadium could be felt from the field. Anxiousness began to blanket Memorial Stadium like the dew on a cold winter morning.
The Atascadero defense played superb all evening, only giving up one score on a broken play, but the alumni stationed on the sidelines collectively wondered allowed if they had enough in the tank for one more stop. The Hounds forced a fourth down but Garcia was able to scramble for the first. The anticipation grew as Pioneer Valley was now on the Atascadero 24 yard line. Pioneer Valley handed the ball off to their running back and he momentarily disappeared from view as he was tackled by a whole gang of Hounds, and when he reappeared he no longer had the ball in his arm. Safety Henry Chance saw the ball laying on the ground and scooped it up and took off the opposite way. When he first picked up the ball everyone in attendance, from both teams, held their breath as they snapped their necks back and forth from Chance, to the referee, back to Chance, back to the referee one last time to make sure he wasn’t going to call the runner down. Once it was clear that it was a live ball the cheering became louder with each step Chance took.
Defensive end Kamren Brown put the nail in the coffin as he sacked Garcia on the Panthers’ next possession.
The Greyhounds won the game 21-7 and everyone sang the alma mater together with increased passion as what was a very tough month of September for Atascadero football came to a close with a thrilling victory.
Offensively the Greyhounds were quiet for most of the night, but scored two quick touchdowns just before the half. Running back Arik Machado went down with an apparent ankle injury early in the game which meant that full back Kobe Cross was the bell cow the rest of the way. Cross powered his way into the endzone in the second quarter from four yards out to give Atascadero a 7-0 lead. Then, after forcing a three-and-out and using their timeouts, the Greyhounds got one more possession just before half time.
On the first play after the punt Cade Sokowlowski hit Kyle Spurgeon on a deep post pattern for a 48 yard touchdown, giving the Hounds a 13-0 lead at halftime.
The Hounds are now 2-4 on the season as they enter league play this week. Arroyo Grande currently sits on the top of the standings with a 4-2 record, but they have picked up wins against local teams like this Pioneer Valley team and Nipomo while the Greyhounds have faced larger teams much further away.
Atascadero is on a bye this week as they hope to get healthy for their league opener against Righetti. Next week’s game will be crucial for the Greyhounds as it appears that they, Righetti and Arroyo Grande will be battling for the top spot in league.