Arroyo Grande owned the first half of Friday night's PAC 5 League football game at Righetti.
The second half belonged to Righetti.
Arroyo Grande built up a 24-0 halftime lead, then did enough in the second half to fend off Righetti for a 38-28 PAC 5 League win at Warrior Stadium.
Righetti had a chance to move to 3-0 in PAC 5 play and virtually lock up a playoff spot, however the Warriors fall to 4-4 overall and 2-1 in league play. Arroyo Grande, meanwhile, moves to 5-3 overall and 1-1 in PAC 5 games.
The Warriors close out league play next Friday night at Paso Robles, which is 3-4 and the league front-runner at 2-0. The Bearcats had a bye week Friday night. Righetti will play Pioneer Valley in a non-league rivalry game to close out the regular season.
After the Eagles built up their big first-half lead and the Warriors started the second half with a three-and-out, it appeared that the rout was on for the Eagles. Gilmet added to Arroyo Grande's lead with a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:49 left in the third.
Arroyo Grande's left-handed quarterback Kadin Byrne, the running back Gilmet and receiver Nathan Wensloff powered the Eagle offense in the first half.
Then the Warriors came to life.
Derek Imel scored on a 2-yard run with three minutes left in the third and Jalen Davis caught a 28-yard touchdown from Brandon Giddings to cut the Eagles' lead to 31-14.
But Arroyo Grande responded by going to an old-school offensive formation, running down the field with Byrne pitching the ball back to Gilmet. That 65-yard drive was capped by a 2-yard run by Joshua Evans, giving Arroyo Grande a 38-14 lead.
Two minutes later, the Warriors responded with a drive punctuated by Christian Lee's touchdown catch of seven yards with 5:05 left in the game. Righetti's Anthony Porcho recovered Omar Perez's onside kick and the Warriors capped that drive with a short touchdown run by Damien Robles.
The Warriors weren't able to recover the ensuing onside kick and Caleb Tomasin, Arroyo Grande's backup QB, took a couple kneel-downs to end the game.
Giddings, Righetti's junior quarterback, had a gutsy performance. Giddings was constantly battered by an aggressive Arroyo Grande defense, but kept getting back up. He stood strong in the pocket, completing 16 of 26 passes for 213 yards and a pair of scores. He didn't turn the ball over.
Davis was unguardable in the second half. The 5-foot-5 senior finished with six catches for 154 yards and a score. Righetti's rushing attack was also more effective in the final two quarters. Robles finished with 53 yards on 14 carries.
Arroyo Grande's defense was smothering in the first half. Sophomore Jed Rantz had eight first-half tackles and finished with 11, unofficially.
Byrne was effective in the first half and consistent enough in the second. The junior finished 13 of 21 for 173 yards and had a touchdown pass to Michael McLean of 13 yards. Wensloff caught seven balls for 122 yards as he, Byrne and McLean used timing and crisp route-running to create separation from Righetti's defensive backs.
Gilmet was the Eagles' workhorse. He had 16 carries in the first half and finished with 164 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns.
Jake Steels intercepted Byrne on the game's opening possession, perhaps the lone miscue from the Arroyo Grande offense. Colton Theaker's 22-yard field goal on the final play of the first half loomed large, keeping Righetti down by three scores for the duration of the Warriors' second-half surge.
The Eagles play at Atascadero Friday before closing out the season with their rivalry game against struggling San Luis Obispo (1-7). Atascadero defeated San Luis Obispo 35-14 Friday night.