Erik Garcia steps up to lead Patriot to key victory over La Sierra
By Dennis Pope
JURUPA VALLEY — Patriot coach Chris Fowler is versed in the next-man-up philosophy.
With starting quarterback John Ober sidelined with a dislocated left knee, Fowler looked to Erik Garcia to carry the load, and the senior running back responded with career highs in carries and rushing yards as Patriot held on to defeat La Sierra 35-27 on Friday night in a critical River Valley League game.
“We preach ‘next man up’ for when injuries happen,” Fowler said. “My first three years here we had our quarterbacks get hurt, so that’s always in the back of my mind that I’ve got to get that next guy ready and have a plan.”
Garcia rushed for 284 yards and three touchdowns on 50 carries for Patriot (7-2, 3-1), which likely secured a playoff spot with the victory.
“It’s good to know that they can rely on me. It was a big step,” Garcia said. “With the O-line that we have that can seal it for us I just have to follow my blocks and make plays.”
Despite the loss to Norte Vista in Week 7, Patriot now holds tie-breakers over Hillcrest and La Sierra heading into its Week 10 game against Ramona.
“We’re not going to ease up for a moment,” Garcia said. “We’re going to dominate as best we can.”
Bryce Poppe and Andre Thomas connected for three touchdowns in the second half as La Sierra (2-7, 2-2) rallied after trailing 27-0 at halftime.
“We came out and got smacked in the face by a good football team, but we came back and I think this is two playoff teams,” La Sierra coach Garry Hedlund said. “The River Valley League plays some really good football.”
Patriot did what it normally does to start a game, giving La Sierra a heavy dose of Garcia before mixing in Ober. The Warriors reeled […]