Dominating Bulldogs handle Del Oro, 42-7

By: Matt Long of the Telegraph
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Maybe this underdog role isn’t so bad after all.

After years of being the top dog, Folsom High’s football team entered Friday night’s game on the road at Del Oro as the probable underdog in most peoples’ minds. Perhaps not since facing Grant in the opening game of the 2010 season had the Bulldogs played the role of underdog in a regular season game, but they showed a packed house at Del Oro that maybe they should have been the favorite.

The Bulldogs executed to near perfection on defense, keeping an explosive Del Oro offense which scored 100 points in two Sierra Foothill League wins over Nevada Union and Granite Bay to only one touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Offensively, Folsom utilized a balanced attack of Davin Simmons, Brandon Rupchock and Kaiden Bennett in the run game, while quarterback Joe Curry threw six touchdown passes to five receivers, as Del Oro didn’t have the ability to stop all of Folsom’s weapons.

“We were really prepared for this game,” Curry said. “The defense played a big part in it. They played extremely well. Offensively, we attacked the middle of the field. The offensive line did a great job with protection and communicating. We just really came together as a team.”

Folsom outscored Del Oro 21-0 in the second quarter with three touchdowns in the last four minutes and 20 seconds of the half to open up a comfortable 28-0 halftime lead, which all but finished off the Golden Eagles.
“Folsom is a great team and we knew we’d have to play well to win,” Del Oro Coach Casey Taylor said. “We made a lot of mistakes early; we had a turnover, we didn’t convert on fourth down, their first touchdown was on 4th-and-28 and had another mistake on a kickoff. We had opportunities to make things happen and we didn’t. Some of that is a credit to them, they’re a good football team.”

Folsom’s first drive came down to a fourth-and-22 situation and Curry threw the ball up for Joe Ngata, who jumped higher than Dawson Hurst and pulled down the TD from 23 yards out.

Del Oro’s first possession ended with a turnover, as Stone Smartt’s lateral wasn’t caught and Justin Viega jumped on the loose ball. The Bulldogs weren’t able to capitalize, as the Golden Eagles made a goal-line stand stopping Curry for no gain on fourth-and-goal from the two.

Folsom’s defense held the Golden Eagles to one first down before forcing a punt and Folsom took over with 7:31 to play in the half. Curry finished the drive with a five-yard touchdown to Drake Stallworth to make it 14-0.

On Del Oro’s next possession, the Golden Eagles went for it on fourth-and-three from midfield, but Ariel Ngata sacked Smartt to give Folsom possession at the Del Oro 37 with 2:55 to play. Six plays later, Curry hooked up with Brad Jenner for a five-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-0.

On the ensuing kickoff, Troy Calderara kicked a high, floating pooch kick allowing teammate Richard Cornelius to get to the ball just about the same time as a Del Oro player, who couldn’t find the handle. Mark Weldy recovered for the Bulldogs in what was one of the key moments of the game. Just before half, Curry threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jack Sa to put Folsom up 28-0 at the break.

Any chances of a Del Oro comeback were smothered in the first two possessions of the second half. Del Oro’s first drive ended at the Folsom 45-yard line when Keoni Zagata-Vera sacked Smartt on a fourth-and-20 play.

Folsom again capitalized, as Jenner caught his second touchdown pass from Curry with 7:50 to play in the quarter to put Folsom in front 35-0.

Eric Davis got into the act with a 46-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth. Del Oro’s only points of the game came with 2:20 remaining on a 38-yard pass from Smartt to Justin Pagluica.

“We just followed the game plan,” Zagata-Vera said of the Folsom defense. “The coaches set us up well and we worked hard to execute. Everyone did their job. We wanted to shut down Mason Hurst, who is a great player, and we wanted to contain Smartt and their running backs who are phenomenal players. We controlled the game and our offense helped too.

“This feels really good. We were underdogs; we heard it all week. We trusted in each other and the coaches and the game plan and we controlled the game.”

For Del Oro, who suffered its third straight defeat in as many years to the Bulldogs, they must regroup for what figures to be another tough game, this one on the road, at Rocklin next week.

“The thing that was most disappointing was that we didn’t play disciplined football and that hurt us,” Taylor said. “We have to learn from this. Hopefully, we’ll regroup and work harder. Maybe we’re not as good as we thought we were. We’ll find out next week.”

For the Bulldogs, who suffered a surprising loss to Sac High three weeks ago, they showed how a loss can rejuvenate a team.

“This game was awesome and I’m so proud with how we executed,” Folsom Coach Kris Richardson said. “We executed at all levels and it was a great team win. We turned the ball over four times against Sac High and had 14 penalties and you aren’t going to win many games doing that. I thought we had it in us tonight. We’re not the biggest team, but I believe we have the athletes to play with anyone. Since the loss to Sac High, we struggled a little with Woodcreek and the veer offense, but these last two games against Granite Bay and Del Oro, that’s good stuff.”

In junior varsity action, Del Oro got the best of the Bulldogs 35-26.