BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer email@example.com
FRESNO — With last year's Holy Bowl fresh in its memory, Garces tried to limit Chris Brown's touches Saturday night.
But when Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial had a chance, it let Brown have the ball. And Brown let Garces have it, just like last year.
Behind 282 yards and 5 touchdowns from Brown, Memorial stormed back from two touchdowns down at home to beat Garces 35-28 in a battle of unbeaten teams.
Brown's last touchdown gallop, from 8 yards out, capped a 99-yard drive that gave the Panthers (3-0) their first lead of the night with 1:37 to play.
The last gasp for Garces (3-1) fell short at the Rams' 39-yard line when Patrick Hellman's fourth-down reception fell a yard short of the first-down marker.
Last year in the Holy Bowl, Brown had 280 rushing yards, 418 all-purpose yards and six total touchdowns as Memorial won 41-35 at Garces.
This time, the Rams did everything they could to limit the time Memorial would have on offense. It worked to perfection in the first half. Garces possessed the ball for nearly three-quarters of the half and took a 28-14 lead behind three Nick Vehlewald touchdown runs.
Hellman led the Rams with 156 rushing yards on 20 carries, including a 63-yarder on the game's first play from scrimmage that set up a short Dominic Frasch touchdown run. Vehlewald finished with 96 yards on 18 carries.
Memorial lost a fumble on its first play, and Garces quickly turned it into a 14-0 lead. With the score 21-14, the Panthers muffed a punt that the Rams also recovered and turned into points with 30 seconds left in the half.
But the Panthers defense gave Garces nothing in the second half, holding the Rams to 82 yards and allowing them to drive no deeper than the Memorial 48.
Meanwhile, big bad Brown, who averaged went to work. He carried on all four plays of the Panthers' first drive of the second half, going for 57 yards and a touchdown. His 2-yard TD run tied the game with 10:28 remaining, and he was responsible for 83 of Memorial's 99 yards on the winning possession.