Dominic Rucker hadn’t scored a touchdown in 10 years. But Capital Valley Conference defenders better watch out because the Roseville Tigers’ tight end has a taste for the end zone.
Rucker caught a pass from Nick Martig at the 10-yard line with 1:27 remaining Friday night at Del Campo High and rumbled the final yards for the winning 29-yard touchdown in a 28-24 victory in a CVC opener. The No. 13 Tigers improved to 4-0; the No. 15 Cougars fell to 2-2.
Rucker knows the quickest way to the end zone is a straight line and several Del Campo defenders in his way found out the hard way.
“I played on the offensive line at Woodcreek my first two years and they were never going to let me play tight end so I came to Roseville,” the senior said. “I’ve got some speed.”
Rucker said his only touchdown before Friday night was when he was 8 years old, and he said he “trucked” a few players on his way to the score then, too.
Though Rucker had six catches for 100 yards, he was mostly used as a decoy for Jimmy Jaggers, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound tight end and defensive end headed for UCLA. On the scoring drive, though, Jaggers ran to the left and took several defenders with him, allowing Rucker to slip underneath into single coverage. That coverage was a step too slow and Rucker got up a head of steam down the sideline and “trucked” a linebacker and a defensive back.
“They were keying on (Jaggers) so we went to Dom and he found the end zone,” Roseville coach Larry Cunha said. “The kid can play.”
Rucker’s play helped improve Martig’s night. The senior quarterback had four of the Tigers’ seven turnovers, including two interceptions. He said after the game he was disappointed in himself, thinking he let his teammate down in an important conference opener on the road.
His tough luck was similar to what happened to Del Campo quarterback Tyler Domino three weeks ago in a 48-21 loss to Monterey Trail, when Domino had four interceptions and two fumbles. Domino was set to be the hero Friday against Roseville when he tossed a 48-yard bomb to Ignasio Salsedo with a little more than four minutes remaining to give Del Campo at 24-21 lead.
On the ensuing possession, the Tigers, deep in Cougars territory, faced a fourth down with less than a yard, but Jay Razzano’s two-yard run with 2:22 left kept the drive alive. Then Rucker blasted through to the end zone, and Martig could forgive himself.
“A couple of times, I thought that this game was going to be on me,” said Martig, who also had two fumbles but completed 14 of 20 passes for 246 yards. “But my teammates picked me up. They never gave up on me and kept telling me to forget it. When Dom scored, man, that was a big weight off my shoulders.”
Roseville committed just two turnovers in the first three games. To win after committing seven is a rarity, something not lost on Cunha.
“I’m not feeling good about seven turnovers,” Cunha said. “But we showed a lot of composure. I tell you what, talking about those seven turnovers is a lot easier when you win.”
Mark Billingsley, firstname.lastname@example.org.