Running back Alex Labanon scored on a 1-yard plunge into the end zone with 8 minutes, 15 seconds, left in the fourth quarter, propelling Gregori High to a 15-12, come-from-behind victory over Bear Creek on Thursday night at Don Lanphear Stadium.
Labanon's TD and Tyler Janitz's ensuing two-point conversion snapped more than 37 minutes of frustration for the Jaguars (3-0), who scored on their opening drive of the night after setting up shop at the Bruins' 20-yard line thanks to an interception by James Allen two and half minutes into the contest but then saw their high-powered Wing-T running game shut down.
"We're 3-0 and we'll take it," said Gregori coach Jason McCoy, whose team will travel to take on Liberty Ranch in Galt on Thursday. "We talk a lot about adversity, and sticking together as a family. When things don't go our way, we can't panic. We have to stay the course and stay together as one."
The Jaguars entered Thursday night's action averaging more than 400 rushing yards per game and more than 9 yards per carry. Bear Creek, loading the box with what seemed like 12 players at times, held them to just 191 yards and 3.41 yards per attempt.
Carlos Fernandez led Gregori with 67 yards on 13 totes.
With the offense sputtering, the Jaguars needed a lift. They got one, from of all places, senior kicker/punter Brendan Cremin.
Bear Creek held a 10-7 lead in the third quarter when Joel Chavez who accounted for all of BC's points sacked quarterback Tanner Goudeau for a safety. Gregori had to kick the ball from its own 20 and the Bruins were expecting good field position.
But Cremin launched a rocket that sailed over the return man's head, took a favorable roll, and zipped into the end zone for a touchback.
Buoyed by Cremin's kick, the Jags forced a three-and-out and would score the go-ahead touchdown on the ensuing possession.
"I've been working with Paul Assad on my kicking," Cremin said of Modesto's resident kicking guru. "I was hitting some big balls in the summer and I was hoping to do the same tonight.
"My kick kind of changed the game. I'm pretty happy about that."
Nobody was more happy about it than McCoy.
"He's a good weapon for us," said McCoy. "He's had several touchbacks for us this year. He's a big, strong kid and every time he goes out there he's capable of putting in the end zone.
But 80 yards? Surely, McCoy didn't think Cremin had that kind of kick in him.
"Yeah," McCoy insisted. "The kid bombs 'em."
Gregori's first score of the night came when Janitz went high into the air to snag a 6-yard pass from Goudeau with 9:31 to play in the opening quarter.
Bear Creek scored with 8:47 to play in the second when Chavez scored from 2 yards out. He kicked the extra point to make it 7-7.
Just about four minutes later, the Bruins took the lead when Chavez booted a 23-yard field goal.
The Jaguars attempted to tie the score with 5.9 seconds to play in the first half, but Cremin's try at a 37-yard field goal was blocked.