Monte Vista Christian quarterback Dominic Pierini and the Mustangs football team defeated North Salinas, 34-24, in PCAL Mission Division play on Oct. 7. (The Pajaronian file photo)

WATSONVILLE—The Monte Vista Christian football team had been looking for ways to get back on track after two consecutive losses to begin Pacific Coast Athletic League Mission Division play.

The Mustangs galloped their way back with a 34-24 win over North Salinas in front of a packed crowd including alumni who showed up for a special night of homecoming festivities on Oct. 7.  

With the win, MVC improved to 3-4 and are now 1-2 in league play this season.

MVC head coach JB Williams said he knew it’d be a hard-earned victory, especially after missing some key players on Friday night. 

“We are so banged up right now,” he said. “We are missing one of our best d-ends, starting tight end, best guard, and our best defensive tackle is down.”

Williams said with all the injuries, everyone on the team needed to step up and rally together.

“We were beat up hard. We needed to rally together, a lot of guys came up and had to step up and play different positions,” he said. “We had guys starting who just started playing football.”

MVC junior running back Connor Pallott stepped up huge for the Mustangs, scoring four touchdowns including three rushing and one fumble recovery in the end zone.

Williams knew Pallott was ready to be the next player up after senior running back Jamie Ledesma was injured in the loss to Seaside, forcing him to sit out Friday night.

“I just talked to Connor and said this is your coming out party man, I expect everyone to know who you are after this game,” Williams said.

Pallott is considered one of the fastest players on the Mustangs and Williams said he could tell the young running back was hungry for the ball.

The fans didn’t have to wait too long for points in what turned out to be a high-scoring affair. 

The Vikings drove down the field quickly on their opening possession and capitalized on a long 4th down and goal situation with a 21-yard touchdown catch by Daniel Macias. 

Late in the first quarter, the Mustangs punched back with a 1-yard touchdown run by Pallot that tied the game, 6-6, after a missed extra point attempt.

MVC landed with another strike after an explosive 20-yard touchdown run by Pallott that extended their lead to 13-6.

Pallott said it was a full team effort that led to his success against the Vikings’ defense.

“I had my team with me throughout the whole game, I couldn’t do it without them,” he said. “We were really focused all night and kept our head in the game.”

After the Mustangs’ defense forced a turnover on downs, the offense came sprinting back on the attack. 

Midway in the second quarter, MVC threatened to score from North Salinas’ own 10-yard line. 

Senior running back Kyle Recotta ran a draw up the middle but fumbled at the 1-yard line. 

Luckily the ball landed right into the hands of Pallott, who recovered it in the end zone for his third touchdown of the evening, extending MVC’s lead, 20-6, with a little more than six minutes left in the second quarter.

It didn’t take long for North Salinas to cut the deficit. 

Demajae Robertson started with a booming 80-yard kick return for a touchdown, followed by a 2-yard touchdown run by Justin Pascone that made it 20-18 going into halftime.

Williams said a big first half was key for the Mustangs as North Salinas adjusted well coming out of the break.

“We were hitting the perimeter well in the first half. It was wide open, they adjusted really well in the second half, pressured us a little more and closed the perimeter,” he said. “Definitely made it a little harder for us but we were able to mix in misdirection and play action.”

The Vikings struck first in the second half with a 15-yard touchdown catch by Pascone, giving them a 24-20 lead after a blocked extra point attempt. 

Recotta redeemed himself in the third quarter after he cashed in on a 2-yard touchdown that gave MVC the lead for good. Pallott sealed the win with a 3-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 34-24.

“We were really hungry for this win, we worked hard all week so it feels really good,” Pallott said. “We got more work ahead of us.”

The Mustangs’ defense also came through in the final stanza with a big sack that gave them the ball back on North Salinas’ own 25-yard line with just four minutes left in the game.

“The defense really stepped up on the last drive with the turnover, it was big for our offense to punch it in and seal the win for us,” Williams said.

Williams said he’s proud the team came together in the victory despite some key injuries.

“We really came together in this game and executed,” he said. “We have a lot of young players playing positions they have never played before.”

Williams told his players to celebrate the win, be safe and be smart as the campus celebrates homecoming but to come back ready to work. The coach rewarded the team with Monday off.

With all the injuries in place, Williams said having a bye week couldn’t come at a more perfect time to get his players healthy.

Despite starting league play with a 1-2 record, Williams said he still has high expectations for his team.

“I want to win the rest outright, that’s the goal,” he said. “Win the next three games and make the playoffs.”

MVC (3-4, 1-2) will take on Scotts Valley (4-2, 0-2) in PCAL Mission league play on Oct. 21 at 7:30pm.

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