San Ramon Valley 12, Foothill 10
The Star: San Ramon's junior quarterback Joe Love came off the bench late in the game in place of Zach Kline and wound up hitting tight end Michael Tagliaferri for a 41-yard touchdown with 1:29 to play to spoil Foothill's homecoming.
The Turning Point: Having driven to the SRV 36, nearly in range for field goal kicker Luis Castillo, the Falcons surrendered the ball when David Camarena's pass for Colin Kacinski was intercepted on the Foothill seven with 13 seconds left.
The Quote: " They (San Ramon Valley) are too good a team to lose too many games like they have been losing. They didn't stop playing." Foothill defensive coordinator Ken Newbery.
What's Next: Foothill visits Livermore Friday at 7 p.m. San Ramon Valley plays host to De La Salle at the same time.
Bottom Line: In a game marked by two stubborn defenses, the Wolves rallied from a rare two-game losing streak to become the only team other than De La Salle to hang a loss on Foothill.
This was supposed to be a celebration. It was homecoming for the Foothill Falcons.
But 20 minutes after the game, San Ramon Valley High's players were still doing the celebrating, right on Foothill's field turf. The Falcons had already abandoned the premises.
This was not a party mood. The Falcons had rallied from a 6-0 halftime deficit to go ahead 10-6 in the fourth quarter on a touchdown run by Colin Kacinski and a short field goal by Luis Castillo. Then the hammer dropped.
With 1:29 left to play, San Ramon's senior quarterback Joe Love – filling in for heralded junior Zach Kline – rolled to his left, spotted tight end Michael Tagliaferri in a pack of four players near the 10-yard line, and threw up a prayer.
It was answered. As the other three players crashed together, somehow Tagliaferri came away with the football and kept running into the end zone for the winning touchdown.
San Ramon Valley 12, Foothill 10. For the Falcons, it was like a mugging. So much for the dance.
"They're fighters over there," Foothill defensive coordinator Ken Newbery said after the celebrating Wolves finally boarded buses to head back to Danville.
"Both teams were playing hard. I was proud of our guys for playing the whole game. And they (San Ramon Valley) are not going to give up. We knew that going in. It was a good game. EBAL games are all like that. They are all tough games."
The Falcons came into the game slight favorites with only one blemish on their record, a lambasting by nationally-ranked De La Salle. Meanwhile, the Wolves had fallen twice – to Granada 21-0 and California 38-19 – to open East Bay Athletic League play.
"We're not in a position where we can take anybody lightly," Newbery said. "This is the way football happens sometimes when two teams are closely matched."
There was no question about how closely these two paired up. Both carried stingy defenses that neither could run against.
San Ramon's defense stymied Foothill's ground game with 35 yards on 27 carries. With the exception of a 35-yard run by Jordan Weiss, the Wolves fared little better —78 yards on 32 carries.
That left the game in the hands of the quarterbacks – Foothill's spunky 5-9 runner/passer David Camarena and San Ramon's rangy 6-1 passing phenom, Zach Kline.
Camarena lasted, Kline did not. The aggressive Foothill defense, led by right defensive end R.J. Anderson and a hard-charging group of blitzing linebackers led by Cameron Rowland.
San Ramon coach Mark Kessler removed Kline in the second half.
"He didn't get his bell rung, he got his body rung," Kessler said. "Sometimes you have to take a breath and get out."
Which brought in Love to finish the game late in the second half. He only threw three passes but he completed all three including the 41-yard decider to Tagliaferri.
Foothill still had a chance after the Wolves scored that touchdown. After Cameron Rowland returned the kickoff to the 28, Camarena directed the Falcons across midfield. He found running back Colin Kacinski for 14 yards on a fourth-and-6 for one first down, then hit Rowland for 13 to the SRV 36.
There were still 20 seconds left on the clock but the Falcons had run out of timeouts. Ideally, another 10-yard pass would get them within Castillo's range provided the receiver could get out of bounds.
However, the Wolves were playing to the sidelines and inviting a probe into the middle of the field.
The Falcons decided to go for the end zone – Kacinski running a post route from the right side. Camarena's pass, Kacinski and Kaulin Blair all came together at the seven. Blair made the catch for the interception that ended the game.
Kacinski had played a huge role in providing Foothill its first lead by scoring on a seven-yard run on an option pitch sweep right with Camarena doing the dishing. That score, the first offensive touchdown of the night, came with 34 seconds left in the third quarter.
When San Ramon linebacker Kyle Egan stacked up Griffith Gates on a third-and-goal from the from midway through the fourth quarter, the Falcons settled for a 19-yard field goal by Castillo.
Up until those two Falcon scores, the only time either team got into the end zone came less than five minutes into the game when Tagliaferri ran back a Camarena interception 40 yards for a score.
The San Ramon coach conceded the winning touchdown pass was a good one, but also a stroke of good fortune – in which the receiver aborted his route and followed his quarterback as he moved to his left.
"You work on little things like that and hope they happen," Kessler said. "Sometimes the planets are aligned. But let's face it, we squandered some opportunities in the first half. Then we got lucky at the end. Pure and simple."
San Ramon Valley 12, Foothill 10
San Ramon Valley 6 0 0 6 -- 12
Foothill 0 0 7 3 -- 10
7:15 1st – Tagliaferri 40 interception return (kick failed)
0:34 3rd – Kacinski 7 run (Castillo kick)
6:04 4th – Castillo 19 field goal
1:29 4th -- Tagliaferri 41 run (pass failed)
Rushing (car-yards): SRV – Weiss 11-77, Summers 5-9, Eckel 1-5, Ragan 1-3, Egan 1-3, Joe 3-(-9), Kline 10-(-10). Totals 32-78. F – Jeffries 5-13, Kacinski 6-10, Gates 7-10, Camarena 9-2. Totals 27-35.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): SRV -- Kline 13-21-97-1, Love 3-3-68-0. F – Camarena 18-30-176-2.
Receiving (rec-yards): SRV – Tagliaferri 2-46, Peterson 2-29, Harvey 3-22, Eckel 3-15, Faber 1-11, Summers 2-10, Ragan 1-7, Weiss 1-3.
Team offense (rushing-passing-total)
San Ramon Valley – 78-165-243
Foothill – 35-176-211
Fumbles/lost: SRV 2-2, Foothill 1-0
Records: Foothill 4-2 (1-2 EBAL), San Ramon Valley 4-2 (1-2 EBAL)
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