OXNARD, Calif. – In a game all about the big play, Golden Valley couldn’t quite keep up with host Rio Mesa, losing its first game of the season 41-38.
The Spartans 41 points were more than double than what Golden Valley had previously allowed all season.
“I’m proud of the team for fighting all the way to the end,” said Golden Valley (4-1) head coach Dan Kelly.
“Rio’s quarterback is one of the best I’ve seen so far this year and that puts a lot of pressure on our defense. So we’ll learn from this and move forward.”
Golden Valley jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead after senior receiver Jalin Lewis returned the opening kickoff 90 yards.
Lewis later went out with a sprained ankle, so playmaking duties fell upon senior running back KJ Maduike.
Maduike held up his end, scoring twice on huge plays. The first was a shovel pass from quarterback Josh Valvano for 54 yards and the second a 66 yarder on a draw.
He also muscled his way into the endzone from 4 yards out in the third quarter and made a one-handed catch in the corner of the endzone in the fourth.
Maduike finished with 160 total yards, 97 on the ground and 63 through the air, and four touchdowns in the loss.
“I’m happy with the way our offense is progressing but obviously (the loss) hurts for our team,” said Maduike. “We came into this game believing we would go 5-0 and that didn’t happen. But we fought to the end.”
Rio’s offense took a little longer to start firing, but once it did it was hard for the Grizzlies to stop.
Down 28-17 in the third quarter, Rio Mesa (2-3) running back Isaac Aguilera scored on a 22-yard rush. The Spartans then recovered a pooch kick and immediately scored when quarterback Austin Maciel found receiver Mike Flores on a 32-yard touchdown pass, giving the Spartans a 31-28 lead.
The Grizzlies were never able to retake the lead, trading scores with the Spartans until the final horn sounded.
Golden Valley finished with 375 total yards while Rio finished with 457 yards. The Spartans also had 2 rushers over 100 yards with Aguilera at 115 and Dylan Rusch at 114.
Golden Valley’s Valvano finished 20-36 for 223 yards and two TD passes.
The Grizzlies will have some time to recover and learn with a bye week before they meet Saugus for their Foothill League opener on October 7.