WATSONVILLE — His teammates call him Nicky football and on Friday night against the Cardinals he showed everyone why.
Sophomore quarterback Nick Carrillo faked out the entire Santa Cruz defense with a read-option and took it 92 yards to the endzone to put the Catz up by two scores late in the game.
That was the fuel that Watsonville (1-1) needed to pull the upset 27-20 win over the Cardinals (1-1) at Watsonville High School in the Great American Rivalries Series match up.
“I feel great,” said Carrillo. “My first varsity win as a sophomore. I couldn’t ask for more.”
His team couldn’t have asked for more either. The 5-foot-8-inch Carrillo ran for 105 yards and touchdown and was 4-10 through the air with a score.
Carrillo was named the MVP of the game.
“He’s going to be a good football player,” said Watsonville head coach John Montante.
Carrillo’s first score was even more spectacular than his second. With 3 minutes and 48 seconds left in the half he dropped back to pass and was flushed from the pocket by the Cardinals’ pass rush. But instead of panicking he looked over the field and found Dustin Rocha for an 18-yard touchdown that put the Wildcatz up 13-6 late in the first half.
The Cardinals hung tough with the Catz though and took back the lead on the legs of Ashtyn Davis. He punched it in from inside the five to put the Cards on top.
They took a 14-13 lead going into the break.
But the second half was all Watsonville.
The combination of Rocha, Alex Acevedo and David Munoz wore down the Cardinals’ defense and they eventually broke.
The Catz regained the lead with an eight-play drive that started on their 42-yard line. Rocha punched in the go-ahead score from three yards out to make the score 20-14 after the extra point.
It was Rocha’s third score of the game.
The Watsonville defense also stepped up their game in the second half.
They forced the Cardinals to punt three times and held them on fourth down twice late in the game.
“We knew that we needed to keep our composure and finish this game out,” said Carrillo.
The Cardinals did score on a hail mary to make things more respectable, but in the end it was just window dressing and the Catz won their home opener over Santa Cruz.
“We grew up today,” said Montante. “We really grew up today. They rose to occasion. They had a challenge in front of them and they rose to the occasion. It’s a beautiful thing to see a group of guys grow like that. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Rocha finished the game with 20 carries for 91 yards with two scores on the ground to go along with his receiving touchdown.
Acevedo carried the ball 10 times for 49 yards and Munoz gobbled up 92 yards on 10 carries.
Oscar Gonzales and Fernando Flores both had interceptions.
The Wildcatz will have a tough challenge on their hands next week when they host the red-hot Aptos Mariners on Friday.
The Catz haven’t beaten the Mariners since the 2009 season.
“We just battle,” said Montante. “One week at a time.”
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