Bulldogs too strong for Atwater, win 59-12

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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It’s not the section championship game, but Folsom High’s varsity football team has the opportunity to avenge last year’s stinging defeat to Vacaville when they host last year’s Division II champions at 7 p.m. Saturday at Prairie City Stadium.

Folsom plays host to Vacaville, a 35-21 winner over Rio Linda last week, in the second round of the playoffs and would love nothing more than to advance to the semifinals with a victory. Vacaville enters the game with an 8-3 record and is seeded ninth in the playoffs.

“I saw them on film and it’s the same old Vacaville,” Folsom coach Kris Richardson said. “They’ve got a bunch of good backs with Curtis Goins being their best offensive player. They run a Wing-T and they run it as well as anyone. We’re going to need to execute and it’s going to be a big challenge to win.”

Folsom gave itself the opportunity to face Vacaville with a 59-12 win over Atwater. Jake Browning threw seven touchdown passes to five receivers and Folsom’s defense allowed only one touchdown in the convincing win.

Midway through the second quarter, Folsom held a narrow 14-12 lead, but pitched a shutout the rest of the way and scored 45 unanswered points. By halftime the Bulldogs led 28-12 and scored two touchdowns in the first two minutes and 40 seconds of the third quarter to take total command of the game at 42-12.

After the game the Bulldogs were glad to win, but not satisfied with their performance.

“We could do better,” Folsom running back Harry Lipnosky said. “We executed a lot better in the second half. We need to come out better in the first half and we will next week.”

Browning had a superb night by most accounts, throwing seven touchdown passes. When asked how he played, Browning responded, “I had some bad picks.”

Browning did throw a pair of interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. On the play, Browning’s pass hit the umpire in the head and was intercepted by Ronald Evans, who returned 65 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown cut Folsom’s lead to 14-12, but the 2-point conversion was no good.

On Folsom’s next play from scrimmage, Browning threw a second interception and things were looking good for the Falcons, who had the ball on Folsom’s 30-yard line. Three plays into their drive, however, Eddie Flores recovered a fumble and put the ball back in Browning hands.

From its own 15-yard line, Folsom’s offense marched down the field and capped off the scoring drive with a 20-yard score to Lipnosky on a middle screen. Folsom converted a pair of fourth down plays on the drive; a fourth-and-two from their own 22-yard line on a six-yard pass to Troy Knox and a fourth-and-three from the Atwater 23 on an encroachment call on the Atwater defense.

Atwater turned the ball over again on their next drive on another fumble, this one recovered by Chaz Arnold. Two plays later Browning threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Carter and Folsom led 28-12 at halftime.

Browning found Lipnosky for a second time on a six-yard touchdown pass to start the third quarter. Josiah Deguara recovered the ensuing kickoff and four plays later Rodney Ellison made an exceptional catch in the corner of the end zone and Folsom led 42-12.

Browning threw two more touchdown passes in the third quarter to Knox from four yards and to Trace Noble from 23 yards and Ben Trumm ended the scoring with a 29-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

Folsom’s first two touchdowns of the game came on a one-yard run from Bailey Laolagi and a seven-yard pass to Knox.

Defensively, Folsom played a strong game. Atwater was able to get some good yardage in the first quarter, but the Bulldog defense didn’t allow much after that. Linebacker Derek Stiles was in on 12 tackles to lead the way, while Laolagi made nine. Mike McCuaig made seven tackles, while Quincy Capel and Flores made six. Arnold made six tackles and shared a sack with Jordan Long.

“It seems like it took us a quarter to get up and running, but at crunch time everyone stayed together,” defensive end Devon Nooner said. “We just wanted to hit them low and get down and dirty. Kudos to Jake. I hope he keeps playing like an animal.”

Folsom coach Troy Taylor was pleased with his team’s performance.

“I thought we played well,” Taylor said. “We had some turnovers early and Atwater did a good job capitalizing on them, but our guys are very composed and play at an even keel and Jake epitomizes that. He was very accurate tonight and Troy (Knox) stepped up. The defense has played well all year and they keep getting better and better. This is a resilient group.”