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HART-BREAKER: Interception seals 14-6 Del Oro win despite Roseville’s gritty effort in SJS playoffs

By: Ike Dodson■of the Roseville Press Tribune
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LOOMIS — Roseville High quarterback Blake Rayback escaped the pocket with less than two minutes to play, pulled away from a sack and flung a desperate fourth-down pass into the Del Oro end zone with his team trailing by just eight points.

Roseville receiver Tyler Haupt flashed into view as the ball came down, but he was outplayed by Del Oro senior Ben Hart, who made sure Roseville’s heroic performance didn’t end his prep career.

Hart’s second interception sealed a 14-6 victory for Del Oro. The win advanced the Golden Eagles (6-5) to next week’s quarterfinal showdown with Vacaville (9-2) in the Division II Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Vacaville beat Yuba City 42-7 Friday.

“The good news is we won,” Del Oro coach Casey Taylor said. “An ugly win is better than a pretty loss.

“The goal here was to win and move on to the next round, and we did that.”

Roseville (6-5) outgained Del Oro 263-170 in offensive yards, sacked quarterback Logan Hurst nine times and forced Hurst to finish 4 of 12 for just 67 yards and two interceptions.

Hurst did run in the first score of the game from a yard out in the second quarter. Del Oro’s second score, a 13-yard bolt by Dalton Gee, gave the Eagles a 14-0 lead with 8:56 to play.

Roseville fired back on Ben Zahniser’s 3-yard TD, but couldn’t come any closer. The Tigers were plagued by penalties, turnovers (two fumbles, two picks) and couldn’t take advantage of interceptions by Bryce Crouch and Bryce Kasch or two recovered muffed-punts.

But the Tigers were tenacious, playing a physical game that allowed for big plays, stubborn defense and a performance that well-exceeded their No. 13 seed, on the road at No. 4 Del Oro.

“We came in and fought, played hard for 48 minutes and I couldn’t be more proud,” Roseville coach Larry Cunha said. “We believed that we deserved to be here and we believed that we were a better football team than we were seeded.

“That was a good high school football game.”

Rayback, filling in for concussed starter Michael Dobler, led the Tigers with 92 yards on 12 carries and he gave Roseville a shot with the late heave into the end zone. The play was made possible because the Roseville defense forced Del Oro to punt after two Kyle Powers sacks in the same late possession.

Powers, a senior and the leader of Roseville’s beefy linemen, was one of several players awash in emotion after the defeat.

“That was all heart,” Powers said. “At that point in the game, I realized we had a chance if we could just get the ball back one last time.

“I went as hard as I could, knowing those could be my last plays of high school football.”

Kasch (four catches, 42 yards), Crouch (three carries, 21 yards), Zahniser (20 carries, 65 yards) and Jimmy Jaggers also played terrific on both sides of the ball for Roseville. Ryan Andrada (sack) and Idris Asaddullah (sack) were a constant harassment on defense.

Del Oro had plenty two-way stars, but relied heavily on fabulous defensive play by a host of players, including Hart, Tanner Robison, Logan Thomas, Dalton Bannister (three tackles for loss) and Dominic Pericin (fumble recovery, touchdown saving tackle).

“(Roseville) played really tough and we took them lightly, which was not good,” Robison admitted afterward. “We had to tackle, play sound team football and be physical to win that.”

“I just though we came out flat,” Coach Taylor added. “It was the first playoff game for a lot of these young guys and you have to give credit to Roseville, because they hung around and just kept going."

Email Ike Dodson at iked@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter, @Ike_Dodson.