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PANTHERS TAKE BIG MATCHUP OVER GW

Baird rolls for 162 yards rushing in win

By Jay Leon Guerrero

The Guam High Panthers got a huge 29-7 win against the GW Geckos in a rematch of last season’s semifinals. The Panthers seized momentum early and never looked back to get a huge win in the ISA High School Football League Saturday night at the GW Field.

DeShawn Baird rushed for 162 total yards and a touchdown to help the Panthers win a key victory over one of the league’s powerhouse teams.

“It feels good to be back on the football field again. This year, we played rugby and track, and all we were thinking about was getting back on the football field.”

– Guam High’s Deshawn Baird
Jackson Ellis with a take down for the Panthers. (photo by Cam Santos)

The Panther offense was aggressive against a hard-hitting Gecko defense. The Panthers used their speed and mixed up rushing and passing plays to earn the victory.

Panthers quarterback Aaron Johnson, also ISA’s All-Island sprinting champion, used his speed for a 62-yard score to put the Panthers ahead in the first half.

“This is the first game of the season, and it sets the tone for the rest of the season,” said Johnson. “First games give the first impression, and we executed tonight.”

The Panthers capitalized on an interception from Benjamin Harris to set up a 35-yard touchdown run by Cameron Brantley to start the game off with an early score. The extra point from Cameron Wharton made the score 7-0.

The Geckos started to move the chains on the ensuing possession with first downs from running backs Isaiah Hayes and Rayn Rios. The Geckos entered Panther territory but tackles for losses by Terrell Rosario forced the Geckos to punt.

Both defenses made plays as the score was still 7-0 in the second quarter with four minutes remaining.

Johnson called his own number and dashed down the right sideline for a 62-yard score to push the lead up to 14-0 by halftime after Wharton kicked the extra point.

2nd HALF
The Panthers had the first possession to start the third quarter and were forced to punt after Rayn Rios and Miguel Cholymay made tackles. The Gecko special teams made a play with Trey Muna blocking the punt to give the Geckos good field position. 

GW started moving the chains on the ensuing possession with running back Jake Cruz taking a bulk of the snaps. Cruz found success with two big rushes, a 16-yard and 8-yard gain, to put the Geckos in Panther territory.

With the Geckos threatening to cut the deficit in half, the Panthers needed a big play from their defense. With three defenders closing in on Cruz, they forced a fumble and it was Rosario who recovered the ball. 

Rosario quickly picked up the fumbled ball and ran into the endzone to put the Panthers up 22-0 after a successful two-point conversion from Johnson to Joey Delia.

“We came out with intensity and stayed aggressive throughout the game,” said Rosario. Rosario had a game high 10 tackles with two tackles for losses.

The Panthers continued to run the ball to keep the clock running early in the fourth quarter. Baird’s number was called several times in the final period, and he broke away for one of those runs for a 66-yard touchdown. Baird’s insurance touchdown put the game out of reach with Wharton kicking another good extra point to put Guam High comfortably ahead, 29-0.

“My line really stepped up today. What I saw from them today was impressive,” said Baird.

GW got a late touchdown in the final period to avoid the shutout. GW quarterback Jaydin Duenas found Ricardo Leon Guerrero II in the end zone to put their only points on the board. Leon Guerrero kicked the extra point and the final score was 29-7. 

Rayce Rios led the Geckos in tackles with seven total tackles, four of which were behind the line of scrimmage. Muna recorded a blocked punt and had two tackles, Chawi Keresuma forced and recovered a fumble for GW. 

On offense for GW, a trio of running backs gained good yardage but none were able to find the end zone. Sage Castro had 73 yards on eight carries, Hayes had 65 yards on 11 carries, and Cruz had 53 yards on 13 carries. The Geckos had 240 total yards on offense, however, penalties and turnovers plagued the Geckos in the red zone. 

Johnson had six rush attempts for 72 yards, Brantley rushed for 44 yards for the Panthers. On defense, Harris had two interceptions, five tackles and a sack. Elijay Ferrell-Ayers and Warner White also had interceptions for the Panthers. Justin Brantley had 5.5 tackles, and Jackson Ellis had five tackles for Guam High.

GW will look for their first win of the season on April 10th (Monday) at home versus the Tiyan Titans. The Titans are 1-0 with an overtime victory. The Panthers will have their home opener also on April 10th against the 0-1 Simon Sharks. 

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COMING SOON …

Guam Track & Field National Championship May 26

All-Island Wrestling Alumni Tournament June 8

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