The Shafter Generals saw their football season come to an end on Friday night with a heartbreaking 43-42 loss to the Torres Toros. This was a rematch of the semifinal game last year, in which Shafter traveled up to Madera and beat the Toros in overtime, 42-41.
The upsetting point in this game is that the game was given to the Toros on a blown call. The Toros tied the game with a little over a minute to go in the game. In overtime, the Generals' quarterback Ezekiel Osborn hit Alex Aguirre in the end zone for a touchdown. Torres got the ball and scored on a 12 yard run.
The Toros were initially going to go for the two-point conversion, but a penalty backed them up so they elected to kick the extra point. The Toros' quarterback had to stand up to receive the high snap, and it was apparent there wasn't enough time to line up the kick. Jose Soriano rolled out to the right side of the field and found Joseph Bass – the center – in the end zone for the two points and the win. Bass was the long snapper on the play and was not an eligible receiver, so the Toros should have flagged for it and the play would have been replayed, as the games' officials later attested. By the time the Shafter coaching staff was aware of the error, the officials were on their way off the field.
The Shafter offense fought to keep the Generals in the game, answering each time the Toros scored. The Generals' special teams also gave the team a boost with two kickoffs ran back for touchdowns, one by Jesus Vasquez and another by Maryon Sloan. It was the Generals' defense that struggled on Friday night, not able to get a stop after the offense or special teams had scored. Torres' balanced offensive attack kept the Shafter defense on the field for the majority of the game, wearing the defense down, and it showed at the end of the game.
Head Coach Jerald Pierucci, although disappointed, did not put the blame for the loss on the officials. "I have to give Torres credit. They came out and threw everything on the wall. They made more plays than we did."
Pierucci also said that he was very proud of his players for what they have done this year. "There were plenty of times when the momentum was starting to swing in their direction, and we shut it back down again. It's just unfortunate that things ended this way."
It was a game of missed opportunities for the Generals, who had a great chance to score right before the half. They had the ball deep in Torro territory, but Osborn slipped before getting out of bounds, and the field goal unit didn't have enough time to get a play off before time expired.
The Generals finish the season with an 11-1 record and have several players on both sides of the ball who will be coming back next year, so many of the current players Shafter may get another shot at a title.