Dragons slay Bulldogs in huge upset, 32-27

Folsom's first regular-season loss since 2011
By: Nick Pecoraro for the Telegraph
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When you have a target on your back as large as the one as the Folsom High football team, one of the premier teams in the Sacramento area for the first half of this decade, someone is bound to eventually hit the bull’s-eye.

Folsom entered Friday night riding not only a three-game win streak to begin the 2016 season, but a 48-game run of victories during the regular season and 52 consecutive against Sac-Joaquin Section opponents stretching across parts of six seasons.

The Bulldogs (3-1) stormed back in the fourth quarter to cut an 18-point deficit to just five, but ultimately fell short against visiting Sacramento High (2-1) at Prairie City Stadium 32-27—Folsom’s first regular season loss since 2011.

Sacramento brought pressure on defense, tipped passes and forced turnovers of all sorts. Couple that with a 226-yard rushing performance by Tariq Hollandsworth and you have a formula for taking down the seemingly invincible Bulldogs.

“Big teams can be defeated,” said Hollandsworth. “Listen to your coaches, they know better than the players. Come together and have fun playing football. We actually had fun tonight.”

Brandon Rupchock’s interception on the first play from scrimmage set the Bulldogs up for a nine-play, 37-yard drive, capped by a one-yard sweep by Kaiden Bennett for an early Folsom lead. The Bulldogs added another touchdown, as Joe Curry hit Jack Sa from six yards to go up 14-0 after the first.

Folsom nearly went up 21-0 before a reversal of fortune saw the Dragons pop the ball out of Rupchock’s hands on the brink of the end zone. Derek Shelton launched a 41-yard completion to Anthony Bradley for some breathing room before Hollandsworth broke free for a 58-yard scramble to get Sacramento on the board.

Bradley came back to intercept Curry’s first pass of the ensuing Bulldog drive and returned it 30 yards for another Sacramento score. Both PATs failed, however, allowing the Bulldogs to cling to a short-lived two-point lead.

Sacramento soon after took the lead on an 11-yard catch by DaVon Owens from Isaiah Randall to give the Dragons an 18-14 lead just before the half.

Curry threw for 323 yards and two touchdowns, but it was his three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns by Bradley and EJ Haag-Larry) that will leave a scar.

“We knew our speed would give them problems so we wanted to make them beat us on the ground. We didn’t want Curry to light us up because he’s a great quarterback,” said Sacramento Coach Justin Reber.

Haag-Larry returned a 90-yard interception early in the third to extend Sacramento’s lead but the catch that Bradley, the Sac High junior, made on his back was the one that broke Folsom’s. Bradley made a bobbling grab that he secured while lying on his back in the end zone to put Sacramento up 32-14.

 “We know we’re going to take every team’s best shot,” said Folsom Coach Kris Richardson. “Obviously, the fumble going into the end zone was a huge momentum swing and we couldn’t get it back. We played our hearts out, but we just made too many mistakes. Their running back is the real deal. They controlled the line of scrimmage and they took advantage of our mistakes. They outplayed us.”

Joe Ngata led the Bulldogs with 116 yards receiving while Sa had a pair of touchdown catches. Davin Simmons tallied 102 yards on the ground for the Bulldogs, while Micah Iverson rushed for a late touchdown.

Next Friday night, the Bulldogs officially begin Sierra Foothill League play with their Homecoming game against Woodcreek.