I wanted to get you all more context for just how good it was and how exactly it happened so I caught up with Eldorado head coach Charlie Dotson and James Yodice, who has been covering prep sports for the Albuquerque Journal since 1985.
First let’s dive into Gentry’s performance.
Eldorado entered the game 4-0 but hadn’t played very good opponents, per Dotson and Yodice.
Mayfield was easily the top test to date, and possibly the best team, the Eagles will play all season. It had a senior quarterback in Kavika Johnson who holds a couple of FBS offers.
“They were ranked No. 1,” Dotson said. “They are a really good team. They are very similar to a Texas high school team. They’ve won a lot of state championships.”
The first two quarters weren’t too kind to Gentry and his Eagles, who fell behind 21-3.
He went into the locker room going just 3-for-15 through the air for 72 yards and missed his last 11 passes (one was intercepted; only the third of his season). He only had 26 rushing yards.
“He’d be the first one to say it but he really played horribly in the first half,” Yodice said. “Mayfield was putting some pressure on him. He was missing some open receivers.”
Added Dotson: “He didn’t play very well in the first half. A lot of the great quarterbacks, they say, have a tendency to throw high, and he was throwing a little high. But he took over the game in the second half with his speed and passing the ball.”
Gentry’s night changed on the first play of the second half when he sprinted 80 yards on a read option to cut the Eagles’ deficit to 21-9.
After a three-and-out, Eldorado got the ball back at its own eight but needed just three plays to score again when Gentry dashed 84 yards for a score.
“It was really the read option that they got going,” Yodice said. “He scored on an 80 yard run on the first play of the second half. They got a three-and-out and as soon as they got the ball back he scored on an 84-yard run. The kid has sprinters speed. I don’t know about this year but last year he was literally the fastest kid on the team. He runs like a sprinter.”
Added Dotson: “That run sparked him. He looked like a man among boys in the second half. He got by people and just started running. It was a pretty incredible performance.”
Per the Journal: “The game quickly evolved into a shootout from there, with the teams trading scores. The Eagles trailed 35-30 starting the fourth quarter.
The Eldorado defense sacked Johnson for a safety with 8:57 to go, and Andrew Shelley’s 34-yard field goal on the Eagles’ ensuing offensive series tied it at 35 with 7:39 left.
It was 35-all entering overtime.
“But first, Gentry scored on a 2-point conversion to end the second OT after his 2-yard scoring run pulled the Eagles (5-0) within 49-48. The Trojans did not believe the ball had crossed the goal line, and their defense was visibly upset.
“I felt like it crossed the plane,” said Gentry, who finished with 286 yards rushing and 261 passing. “And then they pushed me back.”
Gentry ended the game with 547 yards of total offense, five rushing touchdowns and one passing TD.
He combined for 444 yards (255 rushing) in the second half and two overtimes.
“I don’t think in all my years at the Journal I can remember a half where one person completely took over a game like he did,” Yodice said. “It was pretty spectacular.
“I had a rival coach tell me the other day that when Zach is playing like that there is literally no one else in the state that can beat them. You can see why. Even with average skilled position guys around him he is that good to put a team on his back. That’s what makes him the best player in the state.”
Yodice said that Gentry has really transformed his body since last season and is incredibly hard to bring down right now.
“If he gets ahead of steam in this town there might be only one kid that can bring him down that I can think of,” he said. “When you combine his arm strength with his sprinters speed and his ability to see the field, the game moves so slowly for him. He’s really the total package.”
On the season Gentry is 73-for-115 for over 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns.
“He doesn’t have the best group of receivers,” Yodice said. “He’s doing a lot himself. His receivers are very average.”
Dotson is trying to keep the performance into perspective because Eldorado really has its work cut out for itself over the next few weeks. But there’s no denying it was a special night for the future Longhorn.
“He looked like a man among boys in the second half,” Dotson said. “He got by people and just started running. It was a pretty incredible performance.”
Dotson said that all five of Gentry’s touchdown runs were called via the option or zone read.
“It’s great,” he said. “You have to keep it into perspective because we have a really good schedule coming up. I love that he did it now and hopefully he can continue that into the playoffs.”
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