Broncos survive defensive struggle

Melrose junior Cedar Rush tries to protect the ball from Floyd’s Jonathan Mitchell during the second quarter of Saturday’s game at Floyd. (Freedom Newspapers: Kevin Wilson)

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

FLOYD — Jonathan Chavez wasn’t happy with the support his teams was getting so he marched over to the home stands and exhorted the faithful to stand up and cheer.

The Broncos senior gave the Floyd faithful something to holler about midway through the fourth quarter, hauling in 10-yard touchdown lob from Jerrod Long into the left corner of the end zone to effectively sealed Floyd’s 28-20 win over Melrose on Saturday to win the District 3 six-man title.

Both teams came into the regular-season finale undefeated.

“Our fans needed to pick it up some more. I don’t think they pay five dollars to come in here and just sit down. They needed to get up and root for us in the biggest game of the season,” Chavez said.

Melrose (8-1, 3-1), which had cut a one-time 22-8 Floyd lead to 22-20 on a 42-yard pass from Carlos Ruiz to Coy Speer, did get two chances in the late going after Chavez’ reception.

Long ended the first threat by intercepting a Brock Graham pass with 5:23 to play. The Buffaloes’ last-gasp came when they drove inside the Floyd 10 in the last minute. After a sack by Floyd’s Manny Carrillo and Jonathan Mitchell pushed Melrose from back to the 17, Ruiz — who finished with 171 yards rushing — took a third-down run back to the Broncos 7.

But a fourth-and-goal pass went incomplete with 36 seconds left.

Floyd (8-0, 4-0) ran out the clock.

“I knew the game was going to be this close. Not necessarily this low scoring, but this tight,” Melrose coach Dickie Roybal said. “I told (the Melrose players) that it was my fault. Just the way I called the game — it wasn’t good enough.”

Melrose will play at defending six-man champion Tatum next weekend in a quarterfinal contest while Floyd, as district champ, will host Gateway Christian.

“Everyone doubted us,” said Long, who ran for 106 yards and completed 8 of his 11 passes. “I guess they know — we’re number one now.”

Except for the last touchdown of the day, all of Floyd’s points came in the first quarter.

One standout player for Floyd defensively was Brad Lee, who came close to missing the game thanks to an odd injury.

“He played huge. He didn’t even get to play last week because he twisted his leg at our bonfire — jumping up-and-down and stepped in a hole,” Floyd coach Jeff Gillespie said. “He practiced two times this week and said he was ready to go.”