In a matchup of state’s No. 4 and No. 6 teams in CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship, Folsom tops Elk Grove 35-27 and now sets sights on second consecutive state title, which this year will be in new D1AA bracket.
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For the second week in a row, Folsom High’s No. 4 state-ranked football team was tested but with some big fourth down plays on offense and defense the Bulldogs won their fourth straight section championship with a 35-27 win over Elk Grove in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship game on Saturday night at Sacramento State.
“We saw them on the opposite side of the bracket and we knew it was going to be a great game,” said Jake Jeffrey after the game in which the senior quarterback passed for 377 yards and three touchdowns in just the second ever meeting of two 13-0 teams in the championship game in CIF Sac-Joaquin Section history. “Last year as a wide receiver was special but this year as the quarterback it was even more special.”
It didn’t start out as a special night for the Bulldogs as they turned it over on their first possession and it was Ryan Robards who took the Thundering Herd’s first offensive play and turned it into six points with a 16-yard touchdown run for his first of two scores on the night.
With the word “punt” not being one Folsom players are used to saying, the Bulldogs drove down and scored on 4th and 3 from the 12-yard line. Jeffery found Christian Huber for the score.
After a failed onside kick, the Thundering Herd drove down and missed a field goal leaving Folsom starting from its own 10-yard line. What followed was a 12-play drive that started in the first quarter and went into the second and it included another converted fourth down as Jeffrey connected with Eric Davis for 16 yards on a 4th and 14 down to the five-yard line to set up a touchdown run by Tre Green.
Once again, the Bulldogs tried an onside kick and for the first and only time they recovered and quickly turned it into points. In just four plays, the touchown came on a 18-yard TD pass from Jeffrey to Drake Stallworth.
“We definitely saw some things on film that we wanted to take advantage of,” said co-head coach Kris Richardson about the team’s three straight attempted onside kicks during the first half. “We didn’t want to give them long fields where they could go on 19-play drives like they did against Oak Ridge. We want to play tempo football and get you going up and down the field and we figured it was worth a shot and it worked out for us.”
Robards cut it back to a one-score game with a four-yard touchdown run just four plays after the Bulldogs stretched their lead but Jeffrey and Stallworth again hooked up for a score as they connected for a 14-yard touchdown with1:22 remaining in the half to make it 28-14. That also was the score at the half.
Getting the ball to start the second half, the Thundering Herd put together a much needed drive as they went 65 yards on nine plays, concluding on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jayden Machado to Gavin Reinwald to cut into the deficit.
With momentum, the Elk Grove defense for the second time on the night was able to force a turnover and set the offense up with good field position. Jeffrey’s fourth down pass was forced and intercepted by Austin Archuleta, who returned it 34 yards down to the Folsom 40-yard line. Once again one play after the turnover, Robards was standing in the endz one as he carried it for the score but the extra point was no good to make it Folsom 28-27 in the final minutes of the third quarter.
Folsom once again responded to having its deficit cut as Roger Neal ran it in for six points from six yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter. That extended the lead to 35-27 before the defenses took over the rest of the way.
“We knew we would have to battle for four quarters and it wasn’t pretty all the time but we got stops when we needed them,” said Richardson about his defense coming up with two stops in the fourth quarter.
The first of those two stops came near midfield as Alabama-bound Jonah Williams had a huge hit to force a fumble on fourth down that the Bulldogs recovered. Not much later, the Thundering Herd had the ball back and converted on one fourth down but not a second with their fourth and nine play from the Folsom 28-yard line coming up a yard short.
“Here we are after just winning our fourth straight section championship and the reward is going back to our place to play next weekend,” said Richardson, whose team extended its winning streak to a state-best 30 games and should host a NorCal Division IAA game next weekend. “Going undefeated was great but we want to win our section and everything from there is the cherry on top of the cake.”
Paul Muyskens is the Stockton office assistant editor for Cal-Hi Sports. Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports