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Turnovers burn Bulldogs in 14-0 loss to De La Salle

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Kris Richardson said in the days leading up to the showdown with De La Salle that his team would have to come away with points when the offense entered the red zone if they were to beat the Spartans.

The Bulldogs fumbled twice inside the De La Salle 15-yard-line, including once at the goal line, and had two passes intercepted within 20 yards of the end zone, as the Spartans blanked the Bulldogs and went on to win the highly-anticipated game between two of the best teams in the state, 14-0.

Folsom’s offense, known for its explosiveness, and its ability to put up points, failed to score when it had the opportunity. It was the first time since 2004 that the Bulldogs failed to score in a game.

“We did not execute on offense,” Folsom coach Kris Richardson said. “You’re not going to win many games with five turnovers and the number of penalties we had. We’ll get it fixed.”

Folsom’s first drive ended with an interception by De La Salle’s Garrett Shamar, when he picked off a Kaiden Bennett pass intended for Joe Ngata down the sideline at the 5-yard-line. Ngata was open briefly, but Bennett put too much air under the pass, which allowed Shamar to make the interception.

All three of Folsom’s possessions in the second quarter ended with a turnover. On the first, Folsom faced a third-and-six from the 14-yard-line, but Bennett fumbled. On the second, it appeared to some that Daniyel Ngata scored Folsom’s first points on a touchdown run, as his knee appeared to touch the ground in the field of play before he fumbled it out of the end zone. That’s not how the officials saw it, however, and they gave the Spartans the ball at the 20-yard-line.

On the team’s final possession of the half, Bennett was looking for Joe Ngata again, but instead found Shumar for the second time, as he stepped in front of Ngata after running the play down from his safety position.

Despite those turnovers, Folsom was in the game thanks to a superb defensive effort that held De La Salle off the scoreboard until the third quarter.

At the half, Richardson told his defense to keep playing like it was playing, and that the offense would get things going, but the offense never did.

Hoping for a score on the opening drive of the second half, the Bulldogs instead ran four plays and then punted from deep in their own territory, giving the Spartans great field position at the 28-yard-line. Folsom was plagued by poor field position the rest of the game, while the Spartans benefited from decent field position.

Three plays later, De La Salle quarterback Dorian Hale threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Foskey for the first points of the game.

The Bulldogs looked like they had answered with a long run from Daniyel Ngata that put the ball inside the five-yard-line of De La Salle, but the team was flagged for a procedure penalty that brought the ball all the way back.

Try as they might, Folsom just couldn’t get much going. Daniyel Ngata gained 53 yards on 12 carries to lead the offense. Joe Ngata caught six passes for 50 yards, while Elijhah Badger hauled in five catches for 76 yards. Bennett completed 14 passes out of 22 attempts for 148 yards.

The defense, however, was the obvious bright spot.

“Nobody thought we would hold De La Salle to 14 points,” Richardson said. “If we play defense like that the rest of the season, we’re going to win another state championship.”

“Defensively, we just stuck together and played as a family,” Folsom linebacker Elijah Swonger said. “We played every down hard, and had a lot of good coaching. We were definitely well prepared and ready to play. We had a couple missed assignments, but we’re going to watch film, learn more and get ready for Jesuit.”