HS FOOTBALL SEASON OPENER: GP Yellowjackets defeat GCM Patriots in OT 37-36

LEFT: #24 Jonathan Gutierrez, Jacket’s senior running back scoring 1 of his 4 touchdowns accounting for 24 points. // RIGHT: #12 Daniel Gomez, Jacket’s sophomore quarterback drives over three Patriot defenders for the overtime winning score. (Photos by Allan Jamail)
LEFT: #24 Jonathan Gutierrez, Jacket’s senior running back scoring 1 of his 4 touchdowns accounting for 24 points. // RIGHT: #12 Daniel Gomez, Jacket’s sophomore quarterback drives over three Patriot defenders for the overtime winning score. (Photos by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

GPISD Stadium – Houston, TX. ~ In their first game of the season, the home team Galena Park Yellowjackets (GP) (5AD2) and Goose Creek Memorial Patriots (GCMP) (5A-D1) battled back and forth with lead changes. Both teams are in 5A. The 4th quarter ended in a 29- 29 tie, putting the non-district contest into overtime.

Head Coach Spiro Amarantos’ Yellowjackets got the opening kickoff and scored early on their first drive. GCM followed with a TD, ending the 1st quarter tied, 7 – 7.

In the 2nd quarter the Jackets senior running back Jonathan Gutierrez scored again for his 2nd touchdown (TD). GP’s kicker Oswaldo Flores had his extra point kick blocked. Before the 1st half ended with 5 seconds on the clock, Flores kicked a 20-plus yard 3-point field goal, ending the 1st half with a 16 – 7 Jackets lead.

In the 3rd quarter, it was all GCMP’s quarterback Cameron Davis, who scored both a rushing and passing TD. He threw lots of passes and was never sacked in the backfield, due to his elusiveness. The Jackets’ defense forced him to scramble, but because he was so hard to grasp and pin down, he made good yardage. The 3rd quarter ended with the GCMP gaining the lead 21 – 16.

In the final quarter, GP’s Gutierrez ran for another TD. Coach Amarantos and his coaches called for a 2-point conversion play, which failed. The Jackets’ regained the lead 22 – 21.

With a 1-point lead, GP kicked to GCMP with 6 minutes left in the game. Their offense sputtered with a fumble, giving GP back the ball on the GCMP 40-yard line.

Jackets’ junior running back Jonathan Balderas made 2 long runs, moving the ball to the 5-yard line. GP’s junior running back Francisco Martinez ran the ball for a TD, and GP’s Flores kicked the extra point, widening GP’s lead to 29 – 21.

After the ensuing kickoff, with 2 minutes left in the game, GCMP fought back. They scored off of Cameron Davis’ passes and rushes from Isaiah Castillo. After the 6-point TD, trailing by 2, with the score 29 to 27, they made a 2-point conversion, tying the game at 29.

With under 2 minutes to play, GP got the ball on the next kickoff. GCMP defense held, forcing GP to punt with under a minute to play. Then GP’s defense held as the clock ran out, sending the game into overtime.

In overtime, both teams’ offenses would get the ball on the 35-yard line. In high school play. there is no “sudden death.” If the first team’s offense scores, then the other team’s offense has an opportunity to score. If both teams score the same amount of points in their first offensive possession, then the game goes into a 2nd overtime period to break the tie.

The Patriots won the coin toss to start on offense in the first overtime period. Their offense scored on the 1st play when quarterback Cameron Davis threw a 35 yard TD pass to the end zone. Their coaches decided to kick for 1 point. This put them ahead 36 to 29 in overtime.

The Jackets struck back with a 22-yard TD run by Jonathan Gutierrez, bringing the Jackets to within 1 point to tie. But this is when things got nerve-racking for the coaches, players, and thousands of fans. GP coaches made a gutsy decision to go for 2 points, which would either give them a 1-point victory, or a 1-point loss.

With fans on their feet screaming for their team, the ball was snapped to GP’s sophomore quarterback Daniel Gomez, and he rolled to his left, grinding ahead with Patriots strongly resisting his forward progress. Gomez dug in and pushed three defensive players backwards until he went down with the ball, breaking the plane of the goal for the winning points. “The Gold-Blooded Eastside Jackets” won 37 – 36. Both teams were completely exhausted, having played their hearts out.

I asked Jackets’ Daniel Gomez, did he know for certain he had crossed the goal line for the winning points as he was stopped and went down? He said, “Yes, I knew I crossed the goal and we won the game, there was no doubt in my mind about it.”

Both teams have room to improve. The GCMP fumbled numerous times, giving up the ball. They were pretty much a one-man offense, using the quarterback excessively, rushing and passing.

GP needs better discipline in committing fouls; they gave up 70 yards in penalties. They were flagged for holding 4 times, false start 2 times, a block in the back which cost them a big yardage gain, and a push-off interference in the end zone. If they can lessen the missed tackles and put pressure on passing plays, they will have a good season.

The Yellowjackets will host the Caney Creek Panthers of Conroe in a non-district game on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, 7:00 pm at GPISD Stadium – 15025 Wallisville Rd., Houston – 77049.