BY JOELLE MILHOLM Special to The Californian
After four years of suffering defeat at the hands of San Joaquin Memorial, Garces emphatically recaptured the Bishop Donahue Trophy late Saturday night, winning the 47th annual Holy Bowl with a 41-7 thumping of the Panthers.
With sophomore running back Sheldon Croney pounding Panther defenders and scoring three touchdowns, two huge runs of 51 and 39 yards by Dominic Frasch, and a 9-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Cruise Adams to Angus Bellue, Garces (3-1) took a 27-0 lead at halftime on its home field.
"For the last four years, they have had that trophy and we knew going into tonight that we need to play our best game so we could get that stinkin' trophy back," Garces coach Jim Maples said.
"The kids really wanted it and they came out and played hard. We have a lot of very talented, skillful football players and good powerful kids up front and we knew if we could get our athletes out into space that we could cause them some trouble."
It only took 1:28 for the Rams to score on the opening drive of the third quarter as Adams hit Frasch with a short dump pass and watched as Frasch zig-zagged 37 yards to the end zone. Two and a half minutes later, second-string quarterback Jacob Pavletich found Hunter Barnes on a similar pass and he twisted out of tackles and rumbled 60 yards for another TD to put the Rams up 41-0.
Adams completed 8-of-16 passes, to six receivers, for 158 yards and two TDs. Croney carried eight times for 64 yards and three touchdowns and Frasch had three carries for 98 yards.
Defensively, the Rams never let the Panthers (1-3) find their groove as they forced one fumble and five punts in holding them to 172 total yards.
San Joaquin Memorial running back Rafael Flores punched in a 3-yard TD with 1:26 remaining, a drive that was extended because of a penalty.
Prior to the game, the Rams took a moment to remember and honor Philip Dhanens, Jacob Valenzuela and Kevin O'Malley, former Garces students who all recently died tragically, with an emotional moment of silence.
Dhanens, a former Ram lineman, was laid to rest Friday after dying at age 18 earlier this month.
Valenzuela, a baseball player at Cal State Los Angeles from 2010-11, died at age 22 earlier this month.
O'Malley, a golfer for the Rams, died in July at age 17.