Mission Accomplished

Breakers defeat Carmel

Written by Eli Swanson, Staff Writer

For the first time in seven years, Pacific Grove has won The Shoe.

A second-half-opening onside kick, recovered by Sam Fenstermaker, gave the Breakers an extra possession that proved pivotal.

The two rivals matched blows one-for-one until the third quarter, when Pacific Grove, wearing a new helmet logo, was able to open up a 28-14 lead. Anthony Coppla opened up the scoring on the Breakers’ third possession with a 67-yard touchdown that came just two plays after what would have been a long Jason Leach score was called back.

The undisputed hero of the afternoon was Sophomore Zach Miller, who clinched the victory by intercepting a pass from Padre quarterback Connor Marden with just over a minute remaining in the game. In the first half, Miller caught a 39-yard pass from Coppla that set up a  Keenan Selbicky touchdown to give the Breakers a 14-7 lead.

Carmel quickly equalized, and the score was level at 14 when the second half began. Cue the onside kick.

Five plays after recovering the kick, Jason Leach scored from 18 yards out to put Pacific Grove ahead 21-14.

Another turning point occurred when Carmel fumbled the ball at the Pacific Grove 36-yard line on the possession following the Breaker score. James Donlan fell on the ball for Pacific Grove, who marched to the Padre 8-yard line before Coppla ran in for his second score of the game. The Breakers 28-14 lead was the largest of the game, and the game looked to be in hand before Carmel came storming back.

Down 14 late in the third quarter, the Padres switched to a running-based offense that the Pacific Grove defense had shut down in the first half, allowing sophomore running back Covossay Windham only 34 yards on five carries. Carmel handed the ball to Windham for 56 yards and a touchdown on the final drive of the third.

Pacific Grove clung to a 28-21 lead for most of the final quarter, but another Windham touchdown tied the game at 28 with 5:27 remaining in the game.

Only 22 seconds later, Jason Leach sprinted 80 yards for what was ultimately the winning touchdown on the opening play of the Pacific Grove drive.

Nerves were high on both sides of the stands as the Carmel offense took the field with 1:20 remaining in the game. The Padres moved 18 yards on the first play, but the next play resulted in the Miller interception. The biggest play in recent Breaker history, Miller’s catch secured not only The Shoe, but also the MTAL Championship.

Coppla and company took to the victory formation as the Pacific Grove fans in attendance howled with excitement. Two plays later the victory was finalized.

After congratulating their opponents on a game well played, the Pacific Grove players ran with the coveted bronzed shoe to the student section. The fence between the playing field and the spectators was no match for the students, none of whom had experienced a victory in the rivalry during their high school career. Players and fans alike crowded around The Shoe in a gesticulating mass of bodies.

The Breakers were led by Jason Leach, who ran for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Anthony Coppla passed for 136 yards with an 80% completion rate in addition to running for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Keenan Selbicky scored his fifth touchdown of the season in the first half on his way to 59 yards rushing. The Pacific Grove defense held Carmel to only 28 points, becoming only the second team(Palma) to hold the Padres to 28 or less this season.

The Breakers celebrated a victory in The Shoe Game on Carmel’s home field for the first time since 2006. The MTAL Championship is the first for Pacific Grove since the 2007/08 season. The win ended Carmel’s 46-game MTAL win streak, as well as the four-year reign of the Padres as League Champions. Pacific Grove finishes the regular season with a record of 9-1 (5-0 MTAL), joining Palma, Aptos, and Christopher as the only teams to finish with that record on the Peninsula. Carmel finishes the year at 7-3 (4-1 MTAL) and will likely still be a high seed in the Playoffs.

Both Pacific Grove and Carmel will take part in the CCS Division IV Playoffs next week, Pacific Grove playing at 7:00 pm at Breaker Stadium.