GECKOS HEADED TO 6TH STRAIGHT FINALS

GECKOS HEADED TO 6TH STRAIGHT FINALS

📅19 October 2014
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By Jose Terlaje

The George Washington Geckos will be heading to the IIAAG Football Championship game for the sixth year in a row. After a rough game against the Okkodo Bulldogs at their newly renovated track Saturday night, the Geckos pulled through with the 14-7 win and will face their rivals, the Father Duenas Friars in the championship game.

GW’s head coach Ryan Rios stated that the key to consistently making it far each season is to remain humble no matter how many games you win throughout the season.

“It’s very basic. You have to keep everything cool and keep your team humble. If you can keep your team humble then they’ll come through for you. If you put air in their heads then you won’t win anything.”

Being undefeated throughout the playoffs and regular season, the Geckos looked to assert their dominance on the Bulldogs and started the game in dominating fashion.

With the ball back in their possession but in bad field positioning, the Bulldogs tried to move the ball down the field through the air in the third quarter. The Geckos showed that their defense was ready for anything that the Bulldogs offense would throw at them with defensive tackle Jacob Bamba picking up a huge interception at the Okkodo 24 yard line, running it back into the endzone for the pick-six. Another successful PAT put the Geckos up 14-7.

“It felt like fireworks were going crazy in my head when I got the interception but I pulled myself together and realized that I had to try to take the ball down the field and put points on the board for my team. We had really rough practices this week after having two weeks off and our coaches discussed with us what we had to do in these situations”, said Bamba when asked about what was going through his mind during the defensive play that eventually won the Geckos the game.

At the start of the game, the Geckos were able to stop the Bulldogs’ kick-off return at Okkodo’s 22 yard line.  After Angel Chiguina of the Bulldogs was stuffed on a run play, Okkodo looked to the air to get the ball down the field but the pass was picked off by GW linebacker Jesse Cruz, giving the ball to the Geckos on Okkodo’s 25 yard line.

GW Jacob Bamba intercepts a pass and takes it in for the TD to put the GeckoGW Jacob Bamba intercepts a pass and takes it in for the TD to put the Geckos up 14-7. (photo by Joey Blas)s up 14-7. (photo by Joey Blas)

GW Jacob Bamba intercepts a pass and takes it in for the TD to put the GeckoGW Jacob Bamba intercepts a pass and takes it in for the TD to put the Geckos up 14-7. (photo by Joey Blas)s up 14-7. (photo by Joey Blas)

On the next two plays, running back Hank “The Tank” Sablan ran the ball 25 yards through the trenches, breaking numerous tackles on his way into pay dirt for the Geckos. The PAT by Tevin Santos was good, putting GW up 7-0 just moments into the game.

After the kick-off, the Geckos’ defense, lead by Kelvin Hocog, forced a quick three-and-out for the Bulldogs. GW picked up the punt at the 20 yard line but was stopped in place. GW went back to its run game with Sablan, but on just their second play of that possession, the Bulldogs forced a fumble and recovered it on the Gecko’s 16 yard line.

The Geckos wasted no time getting the ball back though with Mason Pangelinan forcing and recovering a fumble, getting the ball back on their 20 yard line. The Bulldogs’ defense held down the Geckos’ running game, forcing a quick three-and-out for GW. A bad snap during GW’s punt attempt caused the Bulldogs to gain possession of the ball on the Gecko 12 yard line. Okkodo quarterback Leeray Zapatos then connected with wide receiver Aiden Ferrera on a 13 yard pass in the endzone. The successful PAT by the Bulldogs knotted the score at 7-7.

Throughout the rest of the half, both teams continued to have trouble finding any offensive rhythm, while their defenses were plagued with penalties. Neither team was able to get the upper hand on the other, leaving the rest of the half at a standstill for the most part. Due to penalties on the Bulldogs, the Geckos were able to get within field goal range with just one second left in the half but were unsuccessful; ending the half with the score still tied 7-7.

In the second half, GW continued to use its running game with Sablan roughing it out through the Bulldog defense. After a string of runs by Sablan, the Geckos found themselves in good field position. Gecko quarterback Brendan Santos then connected on a lob pass to Isaiah McGill for an 18 yard gain, putting GW in the Bulldogs’ red zone. The Bulldogs then stepped up their defense and brought the Geckos to a fourth down. The Geckos tried to go for it but were unsuccessful, turning the ball over on downs.

Okkodo QB Leeray Zapatos breaks out of the pocket for a gain of 15 yards for the first down. (photo by Joey Blas)

Okkodo QB Leeray Zapatos breaks out of the pocket for a gain of 15 yards for the first down. (photo by Joey Blas)

The offenses of both teams continued to struggle throughout the rest of the second half, with both teams being forced into quick three-and-outs, causing each team to punt the ball back to the other.

Later in the half, the Bulldogs were finally able to get something going offensively with Zapatos picking up 33 yards on three plays, bringing the ball down the field into Gecko territory. GW’s defense was finally given some slack with a penalty on the Bulldog o-line that would make it 2nd and 15 but two huge pass interferences penalties on the Geckos’ defense put the Bulldogs at first and goal.

With the Geckos committing numerous pass interference penalties, the Bulldogs’ quarterback went to the air again on an attempt to connect with Chiguina in the endzone but the coverage by GW’s safety, Raymond Macias, was on point, picking up the interception to give the Geckos the ball back on their own one yard line. The Geckos then used fullbacks Isaiah Tydingco and Joseph Sanchez to move the ball down the field, running down the clock. GW held onto the ball and managed the clock wisely, winning the game 14-7 to move on the championship.

“In the beginning we were doing a lot of individual stuff. The two weeks we had off was more of a hindrance than a plus. Too much time off makes you complacent a little lazy. It made us a bit off rhythm but we were lucky to be able to come together as a family and push through it”, said Coach Rios about the Geckos’ slow start and numerous penalties called against his defense.

GW Raymond Macias tries to intercept a pas  intended for Okkodo receiver in the end zone. (photo by Joey Blas)

GW Raymond Macias tries to intercept a pas intended for Okkodo receiver in the end zone. (photo by Joey Blas)

Other Game

FD 21, JFK 0

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