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Del Oro football beats host Liberty 28-24 to reach CIF State Bowl game

By: Trevor Horn for the Auburn Journal
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Loomis-Del Oro 28, Liberty 24

Del Oro 0 7 21 7-28

Liberty 7 7 7 3-24

First quarter

L-Hubble 16 pass from Love (Ochoa kick)

Second quarter

D-Hurst 33 pass from Smartt (Willhide kick)

L-Balderas 39 pass from Love (Ochoa kick)

Third quarter

L-Jountti 41 pass from Love (Ochoa kick)

D-Smartt 3 run (Willhide kick)

D-Davis 17 run (Willhite kick)

Fourth quarter

L-Ochoa 34 FG

D-Smartt 2 run (Willhide kick)

Team Statistics                         Del Oro    Liberty

First downs                                  20           18

Rushes-yards                          33-77       36-188

Passing yards                          259           187

Penalties-yards                     5-35            4-54

Time of possession              24:11         23:59

Third down conversions        9-15        5-12

Fourth down conversions    1-1           0-1

Individual Statistics

RUSHING -  Del Oro: Gee 4-10, Davis 13-58, Smartt 11-15, Esquivel 1-(-2), Pericin 2-(-2), Hurst 1-(-1), Team 1-(-1); Liberty: Jountti 17-78; Love 15-90, Prince 4-20.

PASSING - Del Oro: Smartt 18-31-2-222, Hurst 1-1-0-37, Team 0-2-0-0; Liberty: Love 12-24-1-187.

RECEIVING - Del Oro: Hurst 7-104, Burrage 6-79, Thomas 1-5, Esquivel 1-8, Davis 2-16, Hill 1-10, Smartt 1-37; Liberty: Serda 4-66, Jountti 1-17, Hubble 2-115, Fringer 1-80, Smith 1-7, Balderas 1-(-3).

Records -  Del Oro 9-6, Liberty 9-4.

BAKERSFIELD — What a night for Stone Smartt.

The first-year starter at quarterback for Del Oro was 6 of 7 for 65 yards on the final drive of the game and scored the game-winning touchdown on a two-yard keeper as the Golden Eagles defeated Bakersfield-Liberty 28-24 in the CIF Northern California Division 2AA regional game.

“We knew it was going to be a hard game going in,” Smartt said. “Coming out that last second, we practiced it and we just played as a team and stayed strong and smart. We went little by little. I was proud of the team.”

Liberty led 21-7 midway through the third quarter before Del Oro chipped away slowly.

Smartt scored on a three-yard run before Camrion Davis cut through the Liberty defense on a 17-yard run to make it 21-21 just before the end of the third quarter.

Liberty took a 24-21 lead on a 34-yard field goal by Ronnie Ochoa and were able to stop Del Oro on the ensuing drive.

Unable to convert on the next drive themselves, Liberty punted away to Del Oro with 2:19 left in regulation.

“When we get ahead, a lot of team realize they are outmatched,” Liberty senior Matt Hubble said. “But they kept fighting. I tip my hat to them.”

Smartt found Mason Hurst, who led the game with seven catches for 104 yards and a highlight-reel touchdown catch in the second quarter, three times for 34 yards on the final drive.

“Stone made some great throws and some runs,” Del Oro coach Casey Taylor said. “That was a great quality team right there. We had a hard time and proud of our guys for not quitting.”

Del Oro will play Camarillo next Friday at 4 p.m. at Sacramento State.

Smartt was 18-31 for 222 yards and tossed two interceptions, but made the correct plays when it mattered most.

Trey Udoffia, who has been limited in action the last two weeks because of an ankle injury, grabbed the lone interception for Del Oro in the third quarter, and was emotional after the win.

“I don’t know what to say,” Udoffia said. “Me and Stone are like brothers. For him to do something like that and for us to (start) 2-6 and we are going to state now, it’s why I love this school. People doubted us.”

Del Oro is back in the state championship for the second time in three season after the Golden Eagles lost to Bakersfield High in the 2013 D-I finals.