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Gridley Herald - Gridley, CA
  • Lions Comeback in the 4th to Win Season Opener

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  • With the fall season here and the teenagers back to school, that can only mean one thing: high school football is back! The Live Oak Lions football team had a stellar year last year, finishing with a 7-4 record and reaching the CIF Northern Section Playoffs. Unfortunately, their postseason ended early as they were beat by Central Valley 40-26 in the first round. Still, the Lions were a very strong team with Romario Acosta and Aaron Pamma leading the way for the Lions. Acosta threw for 1,368 yards last year, which included 14 touchdowns, and had a pass completion percentage just over 56% percent. Acosta also rushed for 499 yards and six additional touchdowns. Pamma totaled 473 yards on only 27 receptions, including four touchdowns. This year is different, however, as both Acosta and Pamma have graduated from Live Oak High School. But the Lions still have some good players that bring promise for the Lions this season, including Steven Garcia, who will be taking Acosta's spot at quarterback this season. On Friday, we got our first look at the new Lions team as they took on the East Nicolaus Spartans in the first game of the season. The game went up and down all night for the Lions, but they ultimately came away with a 21-18 victory in thrilling style. The game was pretty even through the first quarter. The Spartans scored first with Jeffrey Limary scoring a touchdown on a 15 yard run. The Spartans PAT attempt was no good. The Lions came right back with a touchdown of their own when Steven Garcia connected with Omar Gorsi from 20 yards out. Rene Martinez made the PAT afterwards, giving Live Oak a 7-6 lead. While the score didn't change again until the second quarter, Matt Evans recovered an East Nicolaus fumble before the first quarter ended. In the second quarter, the Lions tried to capitalize on the East Nicolaus error, but they were unsuccessful. They would be forced to punt the football back to East Nicolaus. Later in the second quarter, East Nicolaus took the lead with a 75 yard touchdown pass from Zach Schuler to Francisco Silvas. This time, the Spartans attempted the two point conversion, but they were unsuccessful. The teams would head to the locker rooms with the score 12-7 in favor of the Spartans. The third quarter was a bleak one for the Lions. East Nicolaus found the end zone again when Schuler connected with Dylan Thornsberry from 26 yards. In addition, Eli Selvidge of the Lions fumbled the ball with less than ten seconds left in the third quarter. The Lions went into the fourth down by eleven points and they had only scored seven points all night. Then the Lions caught their break: Adrian Silva on Live Oak recovered and returned an East Nicolaus fumble for a touchdown. Even though the Lions two point conversion attempt was no good, there was a new sense of life on the Lions. Lions head coach Dan Johnson described it as “you hope for things like that to spark and ignite you and keep you going and it definitely did.” On the Spartans' next possession, the Lions made some strong stops and prevented the Spartans from scoring. The Lions carried their momentum on their next offensive possession, scoring from five yards out on a Matt Evans run. This score put the Lions back on top 19-18. The Lions set up for the PAT attempt, but they faked it and Steven Garcia threw to Andrew Lopez for the two point conversion. The Spartans had one last chance to tie or win the game, but their hopes of doing that ended when Andrew Lopez intercepted an East Nicolaus pass to seal a 21-18 Lions victory. While the Lions did win, it was clear from what happened in the game that there still is work to be done with this Lions team. “We made some mistakes, which you kind of expect in the first game, but you hope you keep them to a minimum,” Johnson said. Johnson didn't seem too concerned with his secondary even though two of three Spartans scores came from plays in the secondary. “I don't think it's anything big. I don't think it needs to be a focus of the defense. There are a lot of things we need to work on, and that's just one of them.” Johnson also added how proud he was of his guys for not giving up and pulling out a win. “They played well, came back in the second half, didn't lie down, fought through, and got a win. That's what made me proud of them.”
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