GECKOS SHOCK PANTHERS 24-20

GECKOS SHOCK PANTHERS 24-20

📅19 October 2013
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By Robert Balajadia

Most teams would consider a 20-0 fourth quarter lead insurmountable, but not the GW Geckos.

Trailing 20-0 to begin the 4th quarter, the Geckos exploded for 24 unanswered points to defeat the Guam High Panthers 24-20 in the semifinals for the second straight year in a thrilling comeback.

The Geckos were facing a 20-16 deficit late in the 4th quarter when Anselmo Untalan batted an over-thrown pass high in the air by Panthers quarterback LJ Aguon when All-Island linebacker Kelvin Hocog secured the ball before it fell, grabbing the interception.

Hocog was then able to finish off the drive by going untouched, on to a 10-yard touchdown run to put the Geckos up 24-20 after a 2-point conversion by Brendan Santos.

“I did it for my team, we’ve worked hard all season. You just have to have the heart, if you have the heart then you will be the better player. I told my team that I don’t try for third place and if you don’t want it, get off the field now,” stated Hocog on his 4th quarter heroics.

With a wide open hole, Geckos' Kelvin Hocog runs the ball in for a touchdown. The final touchdown of the game to give the Geckos the advantage. (Photo by Jose Perez)

With a wide open hole, Geckos’ Kelvin Hocog runs the ball in for a touchdown. The final touchdown of the game to give the Geckos the advantage. (Photo by Jose Perez)

The Panthers were given a shot to win the game, but two incompletions by Aguon to a wide-open Terry Gellar on third and fourth down all but ended what appeared to be another promising season for the Panthers.

The comeback was nothing short of spectacular and it had many Geckos fans claiming this was one of the best and most exciting games they have ever witnessed. As shocking as an upset this may seem, the GW players and coaching staff showed resilience all game and they knew they had what it took to gut out a seemingly impossible victory.

“We always tell our team to play to the end, and that’s our saying. If we make our blocks and tackles, then we will win. A lot of those guys go both ways (play offense and defense) and I knew they were going to get tired. A lot of our guys play one way and it proved in the second half,” stated coach Rios.

Every time the Geckos needed a big play, one of their players stepped up. From Sablan and Santos on the offensive end to Hocog and Untalan on the defensive, the Geckos exhibited championship type football against the Panthers and prove they are not a team to be taken lightly, by anyone’s standards.

Gecko defenders keep there eyes on the ball. After an overthrown pass for Austy Hines bounces off Anselmo Untalan and lands in the hands of Kelvin Hocog of the Geckos. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Gecko defenders keep there eyes on the ball. After an overthrown pass for Panthers’ Austy Hines bounces off Anselmo Untalan and lands in the hands of Kelvin Hocog of the Geckos. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Queue the Comeback

The Gecko offense was out of sync for most of the game and were in need of a spark late in the third quarter.

Santos hit tight end Tevin Santos for a 20-yard pass to end the third quarter giving the Geckos a much needed lift. Santos then found Adrian Cruz in the back of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown pass to put the Geckos on the board 20-8 after connecting with Cruz again on the two-point conversion.

The Panthers then went three-and-out with almost the entire 4th quarter left to play. Then the momentum completely shifted. Though, during a timeout on the Panthers second down, All-Island Utility player Hank Sablan had a message for his team.

“Hank came in an asked to say something to the defense. He said, ‘get us the ball back and we will get it into the end zone.’ That was his last hooray and Anselmo and Kelvin responded,” relayed head coach Ryan Rios.

Santos hit Untalan on 3rd down for a 35-yard pass play as Untalan got around defensive back and All-Island offensive MVP Juwan Jacobs.

From the line of scrimmage Geckos' Brandon San Agustin is able to gain 24 yards before being stoped. (Photos by Jose Perez)

From the line of scrimmage Geckos’ Brandon San Agustin is able to gain 24 yards before being stoped. (Photos by Jose Perez)

Sablan backed up his words by taking a hand-off 18 yards for the Geckos’ second touchdown and 2-point conversion, cutting the lead to single digits at 20-16.

Aguon missed a long pass to Austy Hines before getting picked off by the great hustle of Untalan and Hocog.

Sablan gashed the Panther defense for a big 35-yard run that allowed Santos to open up the passing game.

The momentum of that defensive interception carried on to the offense as the Hocog and the Geckos took the definitive lead.

Guam High got into the red zone late in the second quarter, but a stellar defensive play by Untalan saved the Panthers from scoring. Aguon tried to hit Jacobs for a touchdown towards the left of the field, but Untalan jumped the route and extended fully for a key interception to keep the score at two touchdowns.

“This is Gecko football and we never give up. I made those plays for my team, it’s what we do. I always try to get my team pumped up, we need it. We are looking to work hard this whole week of practice and we’re looking forward to the championship,” stated Untalan.

Big Lead, Big Loss

The Panthers looked dominant through three quarters, but the offense never put their foot on the gas pedal in the fourth quarter as they came to a screeching halt.

Guam High scored the games first points on a five-yard quarterback sneak from LJ Aguon in the second quarter. A successful conversion had them leading 8-0.

The Geckos marched down into the red zone on the following drive, but a shaky handoff to running back Jared Taisipic led to a fumble that had Panthers’ Robit Cabe on his way to an 87-yard defensive touchdown to go up 14-0, which they held throughout the half.

Bulldogs Juwan Jacobs is stopped at the 35 yard line after the punt return. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Panthers’ Juwan Jacobs is stopped at the 35 yard line after the punt return. (Photo by Jose Perez)

The Panthers held the ball for nearly the entire 3rd quarter before All-Island running back Tegan Brown punched in the teams final touchdown from six yards out to go up 20-0.

Coach Rios and his staff are no strangers to the championship game and are confident that the boys have learned everything about being a champion in the games final minutes.

Rios told the boys, “You have to learn from this and learn what is happening right now, there is no tomorrow. If you’re feeling an adrenaline rush, that is the championship adrenaline rush and that is what you need.”

Saturday night semifinal

Sanchez 22, Okkodo 0

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

http://www.akguam.com/ou/tamuning-scion/

Player of the Game: GW Geckos Linebacker Kelvin Hocog

Player of the Game: GW Geckos Linebacker Kelvin Hocog

A pass intended for Panthers' Juwan Jacobs is intercepted by Geckos Anselmo Untalan. (Photos by Jose Perez)

A pass intended for Panthers’ Juwan Jacobs is intercepted by Geckos Anselmo Untalan. (Photos by Jose Perez)

Panthers' Terry Gellar was able to catch a ball under pressure. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Panthers’ Terry Gellar was able to catch a ball under pressure. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Panthers' quarterback LJ Aguon releases his pass through a defenders hands. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Panthers’ quarterback LJ Aguon releases his pass through a defenders hands. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Panthers Juwan Jacobs intercepted a pass intended for Geckos Adrian Cruz. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Panthers’ Juwan Jacobs intercepted a pass intended for Geckos Adrian Cruz. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Running down the side lines Bulldogs Juwan Jacobs was stopped at the 50 yard line. The refs called him out of bounds at about the 43 yard line for stepping out of bounds. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Running down the side lines Panthers’ Juwan Jacobs was stopped at the 50 yard line. The refs called him out of bounds at about the 43 yard line for stepping out of bounds. (Photo by Jose Perez)

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