Cordova ‘Peaking’ at Right Time in SVC Win over Galt

Galt, CA   |  By Mike Bush
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Cordova quarterback Johnele Sanders, shown here about to pass the ball against Foothill during a non-conference home game at Lancer Stadium toward the end of last month, scored many times in the Lancers' SVC opener at Galt on Oct. 6th. Photo by Rick Sloan

GALT, CA (MPG) – A series of early mistakes haunted the Cordova High School football team for most of one quarter.

But the Lancers refocused the rest of the way that led to a 52-13 Sierra Valley Conference opener victory over Galt on the Erv Hatzenbuhler Field at Warrior Stadium on Oct. 6th.

Cordova (1-0 in the SVC, 4-2 overall) was marred by early mistakes, thanks to Galt (0-1 in the SVC, 3-3), which picked off a Lancer pass and recovered a fumble in the early part of the first quarter. On one of its offensive possessions, Cordova drove to the Warriors’ 10-yard line, only to watch the drive come up short in which a holding call was called against the Lancers.

“We made a lot of mistakes,” said Cordova head coach Darrin Nill of the opening quarter. “It was one of those things where we had to get the mistakes out of the way first before we could start playing football.”

Toward the end of the quarter, Cordova scored its first touchdown when quarterback Johnele Sanders threw a scoring pass to wide receiver Jordan Colvin. The Lancers opted and made the 2-point conversion. Galt scored its first of two touchdowns in the quarter to make it an 8-7 score entering the second quarter.

The Warriors turned the ball over after a missed 37-yard field goal in the second quarter. Then the Lancers’ offense went on a scoring spree that led to a 32-7 halftime advantage.

Leading the way for the Lancers were Sanders, who completed a touchdown pass to wide receiver Alvin Banks. Sanders, who completed 10-of-14 passes for 192 yards and threw three touchdowns, scored on rushing touchdown, and rushed 10 times for 133 yards and two more scores for a combined five in the game.

Yusef Pugh had a punt returned 70 yards for Cordova, which was successful on all of its 2-point conversions in the quarter.

The Warriors was focused on the Lancers’ passing attack led by Sanders, who has completed 84 of 120 passes for 1,425 yards and 17 touchdowns for the season. That’s when Cordova opted for its running game that finished with 271 combined yards.

“They knew we had a really tough passing attack,” Nill said. “(Cordova running backs) were giving us six, seven yards a carry. When they (Galt) tighten up the box a bit, we threw the ball.”

Cordova scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter, along with Galt adding another one to make it 45-13 going into the fourth quarter. After the Lancers scored their final touchdown, game officials called for a running clock when the game became more than a 35-point difference.

After giving up 39.3 points per game on defense in the pre-season, Nill and his assistant coaches were pleased to hold a Galt squad that has many offensive weapons to only two touchdowns.

“I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Nill said. “We’re getting it together with the right people at the right places.”

Leading the Lancers’ defense were linebackers in Elijah Jenkins, who had 13 tackles, Pugh 10 and Chase Allen seven.

On Friday, Oct. 13th, Cordova will have its homecoming game against SVC foe Union Mine (0-1 in the SVC, 2-4), which rallied from a 26-8 deficit but fell short to Liberty Ranch, which posted a 40-35 win in the conference opener in El Dorado last Friday. Game time for Union Mine-Cordova is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.