Folsom dominates Buhach Colony to reach Div. II title game
Bailey Laolagi scored four touchdowns, including one on an interception return, to lead Folsom to a 49-22 win over Buhach Colony on Friday night.
The win puts the Bulldogs in the Division II Sac-Joaquin Section championship game for the third straight season, where they’ll face Elk Grove on Friday or Saturday night at Sacramento State University. Folsom lost to Vacaville last season and defeated Grant in 2010.
Laolagi, a sophomore playing like a senior, scored on a 14-yard pass reception from Jake Browning and on runs of 1 and 73 yards, along with an interception return of 85 yards for another score. He also had 11 tackles and a sack for good measure.
“It feels great,” Laolagi said of his four-touchdown performance. “The touchdowns were just the offensive line and wide receivers blocking for me. That was the main key. On the pick-six, I saw a guy going on the fly and I just stepped in and the team did a good job blocking for me.”
Folsom fell behind 6-0 on a pair of field goals on Buhach’s first two possessions, but took the lead for good on Laolagi’s first touchdown from Browning and extra point from Ben Trumm.
Buhach continually shot themselves in the foot throughout the night, failing to convert on fake punt on fourth-and-one and turning the ball over twice deep in Folsom’s territory when scoring opportunities were eminent. As they’ve done all season, the Bulldogs capitalized and quickly the rout was on.
Folsom added a second score on a 16-yard pass from Browning to Troy Knox to lead 14-6 before a key moment in the game.
Buhach faced a fourth-and-one on their own 44-yard line and despite gaining 77 yards on 15 carries up to that point of the game, decided to fake a punt rather than leave the offense on the field. The decision backfired, as a number of Bulldogs swarmed to the ball and smothered the upback who took the direct snap.
Two plays later after a 43-yard pass to Lucas Own, Laolagi scored from a yard out and Folsom led 21-6.
“That was a big play,” Folsom coach Kris Richardson said. “That play gave us great field position and momentum.”
That series seemed to take some of the steam out of the Thunder, who squandered scoring opportunities in Folsom’s defense end on their final two drives of the half and Folsom countered with 14 points.
On fourth-and-three from the Folsom 16, Buhach ran a pitch play left, but the ball carrier fumbled the ball and never had a chance to pick up the yardage needed to keep the drive alive. Folsom turned that miscue into a 10-yard TD run by Harry Lipnosky.
On their next drive, Buhach reached the Folsom 15 before Laolagi intercepted a pass and returned it for the score.
“Bailey is no sophomore; he’s a stud,” Richardson said. “He’s great in all aspects, offense, defense and he’s on every special team.”
The half ended with Folsom leading 35-6. Laolagi opened the second half with a 73-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage. Lipnosky ended Folsom’s scoring with an 11-yard run midway through the third quarter with Folsom leading 49-6.
The Bulldog defense, which has been stepping up each week, did so again on this night, holding a team averaging 43 points a game to six, if not for two late touchdowns in final five minutes of a blowout.
“It was an outstanding effort from the defense that’s getting better and better each week,” Folsom defensive coordinator Lou Baiz said. “They flat out whipped them.”
Derek Stiles made 14 tackles to lead the way, while Laolagi made 11. Quincy Capel and Devon Nooner made seven tackles and each had a sack.
Folsom now prepares for Elk Grove, who it knocked out of the playoffs last year in the semifinals with a 42-28 victory.
“I’ve seen previous Folsom teams reach the section championship game and I’ve never had that experience,” Laolagi said. “It’s going to be a fun.”