Friday, November 28, 2014

Paso Robles leapfrogs PAC 5 rival to clinch section title game spot

Bailey Gaither of Paso Robles scored the final climatic touchdown against Arroyo Grande, when he hopped over an Eagles defender en route to a 70-yard touchdown with 42 seconds left in the 28-21 victory at Doug Hitchen Stadium (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).
To clear the final hurdle and advance to its first CIF Southern Section title game since 2000, Paso Robles literally received a hurdle from one of its own: Bailey Gaither.

The senior caught a swing pass toward the left sidelines, hopped over an incoming Arroyo Grande defender, then used his 4.4 40-yard dash speed to zoom into the end zone with 42 seconds left, lifting the Bearcats to a 28-21 road victory over the Eagles on Friday, Nov. 28, at Doug Hitchen Stadium.

The victory puts the Bearcats (12-1) against Newbury Park (11-2) at Flamson Middle School in Paso on Friday, Dec. 5, for the section's Northern Division championship.

Gaither - the San Jose State commit - has 56 career touchdowns at the varsity level, but how special was his last score with seconds left in the game?

"That was definitely the best one. To do that for my team and get us to the championship, it doesn't get much better than that," Gaither said. "They've been biting on us the whole time (when AG was on defense). But I got the ball in my hands and made that play."

On the final offensive play for Arroyo Grande, quarterback Sawyer May rolled to his right and flung a deep pass down the right sideline, but the ball fell into the Bearcat sidelines, igniting the PRHS players and the fans who took the drive down Highway 101 to watch their team play. 

Paso's other playmaker was Gaither's future teammate at SJSU: Josh Oliver. The versatile 6-foot-5, 225-pound tight end and linebacker started the game with a 28-yard interception for the touchdown, giving the Bearcats an early 7-0 lead.

From there, both teams combined for five more interceptions, with Arroyo Grande snatching four of Paso quarterback Justin Davis' throws. Bradley Mickey led AG with two picks, returning both of them for scores of 28 and 34 yards.

The Bearcats, though, turned to their size on the line, Gaither's inside running and Oliver's receiving. Oliver scored another touchdown on a 77-yard swing pass in the third quarter that tied it 21-21. Then came Gaither's final big play of the evening, which was his longest play from scrimmage against AG.


Jonathan Baldwin, the Bearcats' third NCAA Division I prospect at tight end and linebacker, told Cali Gold Mine that he's ended his recruiting process and committed to a football scholarship with Northern Arizona University last week.

The versatile 6-foot-3, 220-pound Baldwin said he'll line up at tight end for the Lumberjacks, who finished the regular season 7-5 overall and 5-3 in the Big Sky Conference.

Baldwin added that he plans to major in Kinesiology at NAU. He held one other Big Sky offer from Sacramento State.

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