SANTA CRUZ — The Pajaro Valley Grizzlies missed their opportunity to seize control and momentum going into half time, and the Santa Cruz Cardinals never gave it back.
The Grizzlies dropped their season opener against the Cardinals 43-21 after sticking tough during the first half.
The Grizzlies were the first to strike after a miss-handled handoff gave them the ball at the Cardinals’ nine-yard line.
The Cardinals defense did well to stop the Grizzlies on their first three attempts to punch it into the end zone, but PV would not settle for a field goal.
The Grizzlies and head coach Joe Gregorio went for it on fourth and goal from the eleven-yard line and it paid off.
Eddie Medina completed a quick pass to his slot receiver Justin Mendoza and the speedy Mendoza broke one tackle and used his power to pinball his way into the endzone for the game’s first score.
The Cardinals answered right away however.
After a nice return set them up with good field position, the Cards slowly made their way down field. With their drive all but stopped on third down and six against an aggressive PV defense they were able to slip in the screen play to the Dale Stoller who took it down to the four.
Ashtyn Davis was able to punch it in on the next play to tie the game at seven.
The Grizzlies offense was back to work on the next series and they quickly went down the field using the running game.
Medina handed off to J.J. Casares and he was able to turn the sweep into a 22-yard gain that led to an Anthony Cantrell touchdown to take the lead at 14-7.
The lead was short-lived though once again.
The Cards scored off of a Dale Stoller 41-yard run, but they missed the extra point and trailed by one 14-13.
But after that it was all Santa Cruz from there on out.
The Grizzlies, best chance at equalizing came just before the end of the half. With the ball at their own 20 and 2 minutes, 52 seconds remaining they began to work the ball down the field on the legs of Medina.
The second-year starting QB took off three times in the drive, but on his third scramble he was stopped short of the end zone.
He hurried his teammates up to the line for the snap, and was able to get off a spike to stop the clock but an offside penalty was called.
The officials subtracted the five yards, placed the ball and ran the clock to the surprise of the Grizzlies.
The final 10 seconds of the half ticked off as the offense stood out on the six-yard line puzzled.
Opening in the second half, the Cards were too much for the Grizzlies and they scored 24 more points and held PV to just seven.
The Grizzlies will take on Harbor next on Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. at Watsonville High School.
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