Paso Robles started quickly and took an early lead. The Bearcats never looked back.
Paso Robles knocked off Pioneer Valley 21-7 at Panther Stadium on Friday.
“They are well coached, and they are a good team. They played everybody big from the (Central) Valley,” said Pioneer Valley head coach John Ruiz said of Paso Robles. “I didn’t coach my team up and that’s on me.”
Sophomore quarterback Braden Waterman led Paso Robles’ (2-3) fast-paced offense, connecting with Kaden Gallant for a 51-yard touchdown strike on the Bearcats' second play of the games to take a 7-0 lead over the Panthers (1-3) with 9:21 left in the opening frame.
“It’s the first time all year we’ve scored on our first series and that’s huge,” said Paso Robles head coach JR Reynolds. “We want to start fast, and we want to be able to attack at any second and score points.”
The Bearcats didn’t take long to find the end zone on their second possession. Following up a 22-yard run from Marshall Miesner, Waterman connected with Gallant for a 57-yard catch to push Paso Robles down field into the red zone.
“He played well,” Reynolds said about Waterman’s performance. “He did a good job protecting the football and that’s what we expect out of a guy playing quarterback.”
Two plays later Cris Magalona punched the ball in from 2 yards out to cap off an 89-yard drive and put the Bearcats up 14-0 midway through the first quarter.
Down two scores, the Panthers adjusted their defensive scheme to slow the Bearcats momentum. Pioneer Valley’s defensive pressure forced Paso Robles to punt twice and held on a fourth down in the red zone, keeping the Bearcats scoreless in the second and third quarters.
“We changed the way we read, and we changed the way we slant,” Ruiz said about the defensive changes.
Pass coverage from Michael Bourbon, Edwin Romero and Isaac Gonzales on Paso Robles receivers played a big part in Panthers stopping the Bearcats. The Panthers secondary coverage broke up multiple pass from Waterman and caused dropped passes from his receivers.
“That’s our goal, to never back down from a team,” Bourbon said. “There’s always another quarter, there’s always another play, we just need to go 110 percent every (play).”
Finishing with 288 yards in the air and two touchdowns, Waterman completed 21-of-39 passes. Gallant was the Bearcats hot wide receiver, collecting 189 receiving yards and was the target of both of Waterman’s touchdown throws.
“It felt nice throwing two touchdowns,” Waterman said.
Waterman found Gallant open for a 10-yard score to give Paso Robles a 21-0 lead with 8:15 left in the game. Gallant had three catches for beyond 40-yards.
“If he’s going to run, I’m going to throw it to him and it’s just going to connect,” Waterman said about his rhythm with Gallant.
The Panthers found pay dirt late the final minutes of the fourth quarter following a short Bearcats punt that gave Pioneer Valley the ball on Paso Robles’ 45-yard line. Pioneer Valley running back Michael Bourbon closed out the 45-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.
“You know what, these kids have heart today and they never quick. Our kids played hard and I’m proud of them for that,” Ruiz said.
Bourbon was the Panthers leading rusher with 74-yards rushing on 14 carries. Pioneer Valley’s quarterback Jayson Garcia finished with 44 yards passing, completing five of his nine passes.
“Coach Ruiz always talks about having one heartbeat and I feel that’s what we did on that last drive. None of us gave up, we all had that fight and we just wanted to score and end on a positive note,” Bourbon said.
Paso Robles finished with 448 yards of total offense. The Bearcats held the Panthers’ offense to 128 yards in the game.
The Panthers remain at home next Friday to conclude a three-game homestand, hosting the Atascadero Greyhounds from the Mountain League. Paso Robles will be at home next week hosting Sanger at Flamson Middle School.