Second-quarter outburst leads Folsom over Trojans, 42-28

By: Matt Long of the Telegraph
-A +A

Folsom scored four touchdowns in the second quarter on its way to a 42-28 win over Oak Ridge in a battle of unbeaten teams Friday night.

Folsom held a commanding 28-7 lead at halftime, and while the Trojans outscored them 21-14 in the second half, it wasn’t enough, as the Bulldogs won the game and the Sierra Foothill League title.

Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere wanted to make Folsom work hard to earn any points they’d score. While the Bulldogs didn’t have any long offensive touchdowns, the Trojans gave them great field position and the Bulldogs took advantage. Three of Folsom’s four scoring drives in the second quarter started with optimum field position. After an 80-yard drive to start the scoring, Folsom’s next three drives started at the Oak Ridge 23-yard line, the Folsom 48 and the Oak Ridge 21.

After the Bulldogs spotted the Trojans a 7-0 lead when Marco Baldacchino threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Austin Jarrard, Folsom took over. The Bulldogs tied the game with a 14-yard screen pass from Kaiden Bennett to Daniyel Ngata.

On Oak Ridge’s next possession, which started at its own 10-yard line, the Bulldogs held them to one yard on three plays before a 12-yard punt from Justin Poerio gave Folsom the ball at the 23-yard line. Bennett capped off a four-play drive with a one-yard run giving Folsom a 14-7 lead.

On the third play of Oak Ridge’s next possession, Baldacchino fumbled and it was recovered by Folsom’s Justin Viega. Bennett later ended the nine-play, 52-yard drive with a three-yard run.

Starting its next drive at the 13-yard line, Oak Ridge again only gained one yard on three plays before another short punt by Poerio gave Folsom the ball at the Oak Ridge 21-yard line. On the next play, Bennett threw a touchdown pass to Joe Ngata and the Bulldogs led 28-7.

“Field position killed us in the first half,” Cavaliere said. “A couple mistakes left us deep in our own territory, and a couple shanked punts gave Folsom a short field. When you give Folsom a short field, you’re asking for trouble.”

Oak Ridge scored on its first possession of the second half on a 61-yard pass from Baldacchino to Jarrard, but Folsom answered with another Bennett-to-Joe-Ngata hook up, this one on fourth down from the 26-yard line, to keep the Trojans three touchdowns behind.

As the Trojans neared the Folsom red zone on its next possession, Baldacchino fumbled and Folsom’s defensive lineman Caleb Freeland picked up the loose ball and rumbled 70 yards for a touchdown, which if it wasn’t the final nail in the coffin, it was close to it.

“It’s the hardest and fastest I’ve ever run,” Freeland said. “It felt great to score a touchdown. It was amazing.”

Freeland’s score made it 42-14 late in the third quarter. The Trojans managed two more scores on a one-yard run from Davin Simmons and a 18-yard pass from Cooper Crick to Poerio.

While it wasn’t entirely a pretty win for the Bulldogs, who had several penalties that stalled drives, for the fourth consecutive season, the Bulldogs are undefeated Sierra Foothill League champions.

“We were a little sloppy in the first quarter, but we bounced back and got some stops on defense and executed and got on the board on offense,” said Daniyel Ngata.

Added his brother, Joe, “We played hard and never flinched. Everything didn’t always go our way, but we just kept coming back.”

While the Trojans were disappointed with the loss, they plan on facing the Bulldogs again this season.

“We had some quick drives in the second quarter, and we can’t give Folsom the ball in that kind of field position,” Baldacchino said. “We will see them again, so that’s all that matters.”

Folsom will likely be the No. 1 seed in the Division I playoffs, while the Trojans figure to be the third seed on the other side of the bracket, which will be released tomorrow afternoon. So if both teams keep winning, they’d meet in the championship game.

“It feels great to be SFL champs, but there’s still a lot more to win,” Daniyel Ngata said.

Folsom’s junior varsity team wrapped up a SFL title and undefeated season prior to the varsity game, as the 10-0 Bulldogs defeated the 7-2 Trojans, 67-13.