The Pacific Grove High football team was like a beast that salivated and sharpened its claws in hopes of a chance of capturing its prey. It had to wait a couple of weeks to seek out its local foe.
On Friday night, the Breakers pounced, pounded and slashed its way to a Central Coast Section Division IV finals appearance.
In what was unofficially deemed “Shoe II,” the Breakers got payback in a big way, defeating Carmel 77-53 at Monterey Peninsula College in the semifinals of the CCS Division IV playoffs.
With the win, Pacific Grove will play in the Division IV title game, scheduled for next Saturday at a time and place to be determined.
The boys in red and gold don’t know who their opponent will be yet. Monterey and Sacred Heart Prep will meet in Atherton this afternoon to determine the other finalist.
The Breakers defeated Carmel for the first time since 2007, ending a streak of six in a row, which included the 40-35 Carmel win a couple of weeks ago.
Pacific Grove will be in a CCS final for the first time since 2007, and it will try to win its first CCS championship since 2001. It definitely has the firepower to get the job done, as it showed in the rematch against rival Carmel on Friday night.
Pacific Grove scored on every possession in the first half and didn’t face a third down until the first play of the second quarter.
The Breakers also went 2-for-2 on fourth down in the first half. That second conversion was a broken-up pass play ruled interference by Carmel, putting the Breakers on the 4-yard line.
On the ensuing play, Luke Lowell threw a strike to Jake Speed for a touchdown, giving the Breakers a 49-31 lead with less than 10 seconds to go in the half.
Pacific Grove racked up nearly 500 yards of offense in the first half. Speed collected five touchdowns in the first half and six for the whole game. Four came on the ground and two came from a pass by Lowell.
The Breakers never trailed but Carmel stayed close in the first half.
Carmel got the ball to start the second half and punted, the first punt by either team in the game. Pacific Grove took advantage, going 73 yards on 14 plays capped off by a 2-yard quarterback keeper by Lowell to give the Breakers a 56-31 lead with 4:44 to go in the third.
And that touchdown might have given the Breakers a chance to exhale, but the designated visitors were stern and focused, trying to prevent Carmel from getting back into the game.
But like that pebble in the shoe, Carmel didn’t go away. It answered with a five-play drive capped off with a 1-yard run by Holden Smith to cut the Padres’ deficit to 56-38. It took Carmel less than two minutes to score.
Pacific Grove punted and the Padres suddenly had the momentum. It couldn’t capitalize.
The Breakers got the ball back and immediately scored as Leach went 25 yards untouched. A couple of minutes later, Speed went 18 yards for a touchdown, and the Breakers were up 70-38, making some wonder if the mercy rule was going to be implemented.
Carmel came back with a nine-play drive that ended with a five-yard keeper by Holden Smith, closing Carmel’s deficit to 70-45. Pacific Grove got back on track, chewing up five minutes of clock and getting a 31-yard touchdown from Jason Leach on a fourth-and-16 to go ahead 77-45.
Lowell had a touchdown run, two touchdown passes and more than 300 all-purpose yards on offense. Speed tallied more than 250 yards of offense. Leach had 182 yards on 20 carries.
For Carmel, Smith had five touchdowns. Three were on offense, one came off a 19-yard pass from Connor Marden. One touchdown was an 82-yard kickoff return closing Carmel’s deficit to 34-23 with 7:54 to go in the second quarter.
Marden had 270 yards passing on 25-for-35 passing. He ran for a touchdown and had two first-half tosses for touchdowns.
It’s not the first time a Monterey County team faced a league opponent in the playoffs. Salinas lost to Hollister in last year’s Division I semifinals. In 1996, Palma, then in the Mission Trail Athletic League, survived two encounters with Gonzales, including a 23-21 win in the Division IV semifinals.
The loss was Carmel’s first of the season. Previously undefeated Burlingame lost to St. Ignatius on Friday night, leaving 11-0 Alvarez as the lone undefeated team remaining in the CCS playoffs.