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El Molino holds on for key win against Montgomery

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The El Molino High School football team kept its playoff hopes afloat with a tight 41-35 win over Montgomery High School Monday night in Forestville.

After poor air quality from the Kincade forced the cancellation of most Sonoma County high school football games last week, the Lions (5-4 overall, 2-2 North Bay League-Redwood Division) and the Vikings (0-9 overall, 0-3 NBL-Redwood) agreed to play their makeup game Monday night.

“Most of our kids are West County so they weren’t under crazy evacuations. We got back together last Thursday, and Friday and Saturday had practice, so we were good to go,” El Molino head coach Randy Parmeter said.

The Lions entered the game looking to improve their seeding in the Division 7 North Coast Section playoffs. With a win earning them a middle seed and a loss possibly dropping them out of the eight-team bracket, a victory in Monday’s contest was even more crucial.

After four highly contested quarters, the game was ultimately decided in the final minutes of regulation on a 3-yard touchdown run from El Molino’s quarterback Weston Lewis to squeak out a narrow victory.

“We knew we could score points and it was all about how we played on defense and we didn’t execute well. Basically, our offense kept us in the game and our defense just did enough to get the job done, barely,” Parmeter said.

The Lions opened the game with a bang, as Jalen Hall returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown to take a 6-0 lead, following a missed extra point.

El Molino didn’t let up and on their next possession scored on a 27-yard pass from Lewis to Ryan Palmer.

Not to be outdone, the Vikings offense was able to answer with two big back-to-back scores as quarterback Cole Hallin found a wide open Devin Ramirez for a 71-yard touchdown pass and on the next drive hit Mason Hallin for an 85-yards score to tie it 13-13 after one quarter.

Midway through the second, El Molino’s Cole Vanstone intercepted Hallin’s pass to put the Lions’ offense at midfield to start the drive.

A couple big runs and two unsportsmanlike conduct calls against the Vikings set up El Molino with a first-and-goal. Hall finished off the drive with an 8-yard run.

The Lions led 20-13 at halftime.

Montgomery opened the second half mostly running the ball and finished off a drive with a 17-yard quarterback keeper from Hallin to tie the score once again.

The Lions answered with their own drive, thanks to some big runs from Lewis, and El Molino took back the lead again up 27-20, on a 9-yard run from Hall.

But the Vikings offense was clicking and scored again on another long drive, this time on a 38-yard pass from Cole Hallin to Mason Hallin who found the ball in the end zone after it bounced off Lions’ defenders.

The score was tied 27-27 heading into the fourth quarter.

El Molino had the ball to start the fourth and drove down the field again, using the run, and capped off the series with an 8-yard touchdown run from Hall to go back on top.

The Vikings offense took over with six minutes left in the game and a couple big quarterback keepers from Hallin put Montgomery in enemy territory with the clock ticking. They finished the drive with a 20-yard run from Allen Gray and trailed 34-33.

The Vikings elected to go for the 2-point attempt and converted on a short run from Gray to take a 35-34 lead with about four minutes remaining.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Lions returned the ball to the Montgomery 38-yard line.

A 35-yard run from Lewis put El Molino on the 5-yard line and the Lions sealed the win with a 3-yard touchdown run by Lewis, taking a 41-35 lead, and then holding on to win.

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