The pass beat the rush in Firebaugh’s 54-40 victory over Immanuel in the Central Section Division 5 football quarterfinals on Friday.
Firebaugh’s Josh Allen completed 32 of 46 passes for 443 yards and four touchdowns, while on the other side of the ball, Immanuel’s Khalil Montgomery carried 32 times for 388 yards and all six of Immanuel’s scores.
“When we went shotgun and spread, they were bringing six, and they were playing man on the receivers,” Allen said. “We just felt that our athletes had a better chance of making some plays if they got the ball quick, so we were just trying to get it as quickly out of our hands as possible.”
Three of Allen’s receivers hit the century mark, with Jordan Martinez catching 9 passes for 106 yards, Cristian Patlan hauling in 8 for 141 and Chris Lopez catching 6 for 102.
“They work hard every day in practice, in the weight room, doing all the little things right,” Allen said. “I can’t say enough about those guys. I hang out with them on weekends.”
Firebaugh was on its way to a blowout, taking a 30-0 lead in the second quarter. But the last play of the first half gave a preview of what to expect when Montgomery took the ball around the right side, hurdled his own blocker that had fallen, and raced 64 yards to the end zone.
Montgomery scored four unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter to give Immanuel a 33-30 lead.
“You know, I’m an old boxer, wrestler, and there’s times when you’re just getting punched, and you’re in the corner and you’ve got a couple of choices,” Firebaugh coach Bill Magnusson said. “You’re choice is, OK, you let him pummel you, or I’m going to start punching back and I’m going to use some different techniques. We did make adjustments on defense to get the ball back two series, which made the difference in the game.”
Allen gave Firebaugh the lead back early in the final frame, hitting Anthony Argueta on a slot corner route. He threw another after Montgomery’s final score cut the lead to 42-40.
“They’re a good football team. That quarterback’s a special player. He put the ball on the money all night,” Immanuel coach Matthew Armstrong said. “I was hoping the wet field would affect them, but it didn’t.” Argueta sealed the game on Immanuel’s final drive, sacking Immanuel quarterback Aaron Daggs on three straight plays, pushing the Eagles back 19 yards.