Last-play heartbreak for Trojans
Like two heavyweight champions, the Petaluma and Analy high school football teams stood toe-to-toe and slugged it out with the title on the line Friday night.
Just as it looked like the bout might take an extra round to decide, Analy amazingly delivered an emotional knockout punch.
There were seven seconds rapidly blinking away in the fourth quarter when Analy quarterback Jack Newman spiraled a bullet 46 yards downfield.
When the ball dropped to earth, Tiger receiver Ross Simmons clutched it away from Petaluma defender Eammon McMahon as both apparently tumbled into the end zone.
The scoreboard showed 0:00 and a 42-36 Analy win as the Tigers mobbed their hero.
“It was a great throw, a great catch and great defense,” said Petaluma coach Rick Krist. “He (McMahon) had him well covered. He (Simmons) just made a great play.”
The win gave Analy the Sonoma County League championship and kept the Tigers undefeated for the regular season (10-0) and in league play (6-0). Petaluma finished the regular campaign with a 7-3 overall record and a 5-1 SCL mark.
From the beginning, the game was a masterful contrast between Petaluma’s methodical ground game and Analy’s hyper-active aerial assault.
For most of the evening, Analy could not stop Petaluma’s body-smashing ground attack led by quarterback Brendon White. The senior had a career game, scoring three touchdowns and rushing for 160 yards on 23 carries. He also completed four of nine passes for 25 yards and a touchdown. This is all in addition to playing exceptional defense, intercepting a pass and saving a touchdown by tackling an Analy player from behind following a turnover.
White’s cohort in battering the Analy offensive line, fullback Lucas Dentoni, carried 31 times for 192 yards and a touchdown.
Petaluma’s ground dominance was all made possible by another outstanding effort by its offensive front of Travis Plank, Joe Beccera, Ben Upton, William O’Neill, Zane Overton and tight end Robert Krist. As a tean the Trojans rushed for 460 yards.
While Petaluma’s offense was running roughshod over Analy’s shocked defenders, the Tigers were, in turn, proving as unstoppable as advertised behind the deadly passing of Newman, who threw for four touchdowns, and the rapid darts of running back Chris Zamora, who rushed for a touchdown and was Trojan trouble on a number of short screen-like passes.
It balanced out into a wildly entertaining championship clash.
But the numbers fade in comparison to the kickoff-to-finish intensity of the game. With rooting sections on both sides of Rancho Cotate’s luxurious field screaming as if Halloween ghouls were stalking the stadium, the two protagonists punched and counter-punched with each occasionally staggering, but neither falling.
By the numbers, here’s what happened:
Petaluma won the coin flip and surprisingly deferred to the second half, effectively choosing to kick off to a high-powered Analy offense that averages better than 40 points a game.
Krist’s strategy became immediately apparent when his team opened the game with an onside kick. It wasn’t successful, but it set Petaluma’s gambler mentality for the game.
Although the rolling kick gave Analy good game-starting position near midfield, the Petaluma defense harried Newman into three straight pass incompletions.