HAYWARD -- There was never any doubt Daniel Mouro had the leg.
But while his game-tying field goal attempt with six seconds remaining had more than enough distance on Saturday night, his 44-yard attempt hooked wide left, denying the Merced College football team a shot at overtime.
Mouro's miss was the last of numerous points the Blue Devils left on the field. They missed two field goals and turned the ball over three times in the red zone, allowing Chabot to escape with a 17-14 victory in the teams' Golden Gate Conference opener.
"I couldn't be prouder of these guys," MC head coach Bob Casey said. "With all that we did wrong, we faced the adversity and fought through it. We gave ourselves a chance at the end of the game, and that's all you can ask for."
The Blue Devils' wild rally came seemingly out of nowhere.
Led by Brad Avila (team-high 8 tackles and one interception) and Darius Lamar (7½ tackles and a sack) the MC defense turned in its best performance of the season, allowing Chabot (2-4, 1-0 GGC) just one real drive in the game.
Down 17-7 with just over 5 minutes to play, the Crazy Blues forced the Gladiators to turn the ball over on downs at the MC 26-yard line.
After struggling for most of the game -- particularly in the second half -- it seemed like it was going to take an individual effort to ignite the MC offense.
Tyrell Vinson did just that. The sophomore wide receiver had been challenged by Casey to have more of a presence earlier in the week. Vinson responded with six catches for 202 yards. None was bigger than the screen pass he hauled in on a crucial third-and-10 with 4 minutes, 22 seconds to play.
Vinson got a wall of blockers and then exploded 63 yards for a score, trimming the lead to 17-14.
The MC defense held and got the ball back with 1:31 to play. An offensive pass interference on third-and-3 almost killed the drive, but Trevor Mew found Vinson with another screen. The 34-yard gain put the Blue Devils in field goal position.
MC took a couple shots at the end zone and then sent Mouro out for the tie.
"This was a tough one," defensive end Jesse Jiminez said. "We really came together as a team and stood by each other for the full four quarters. It felt like we deserved to win, but that's football.
"You don't always get the result you deserve."
It should never have come down to Mouro's kick.
Chabot took an early lead, cashing in a Mew interception at MC's 18-yard line with a Domomoc Domomock 4-yard TD run.
After that, the first half belonged to the Blue Devils (0-1 GGC, 2-5).
MC got the ball inside the Gladiators' 25 on four straight possessions in the second quarter, but could only tie the game.
Javon Smith ran for 4-yard TD to tie it at 7, but the Blue Devils also missed a field goal, fumbled and threw an interception in the end zone just before the half to send them frustrated into intermission.
"There's no excuse for that," Casey said. "With Mouro's leg, we're already in field goal position. The one thing I told them is just don't make any mistakes if we're already in scoring position. Those points would have been the difference in the game.
"The defense played amazing. They kept their heads up and just kept playing hard until the offense got going."
The loss ensures a 15th consecutive season without a winning campaign for the Blue Devils. They'll try to bounce back at Reedley this week. MC may have to do it shorthanded. Jarrell Davis and Smith left the game with injuries, while a handful of others were banged up for at least a few plays.