Taking the game-opening drive 74 yards for a score and using 9:31 of the first quarter to do it is quite effective. That kind of ball and clock control makes it impossible for Antelope Titans running back Elijah Dotson to score from his sideline.
But Dotson is going to get his touches and when he did Friday night he made the Oakmont Vikings pay. Dotson’s 158 yards and four touchdowns led the No. 8 Titans past the Vikings, 48-22, and spoiled Oakmont’s homecoming.
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Dotson came into the important Capital Valley Conference matchup averaging 172 yards and two touchdowns a game for the 5-0 Titans. He had a quiet first half against the Vikings (3-2) with just 59 yards. But the first play from scrimmage to start the second half got the dynamic carrier back on track. The play was supposed to be up the middle, but Dotson said he saw a bunch of baby blue jerseys in front of him and decided to get to the corner where it’s less populated. Once he got around the corner, the senior was gone down the sidelines for an 80-yard, game-breaking sprint and score.
“The play is called ISO 53 Belly but I saw it was closed up so I just bounced outside,” Dotson said. “I use the corner to my advantage and set things up for next week. I know teams are looking and if they want to push me to the inside, I’ll run there too.”
Dotson also scored on plunging runs of 1 and 2 yards, so running between the guards and the center isn’t an issue. He also had a 28-yard scoring run that turned out to be the game winner, putting the Titans up 13-7.
Typically the corner is where players of Dotson’s size – he’s 5-foot-10, 184 pounds – roam. They’re usually defensive backs or quick linebackers. With his speed and his battering ram of a straight arm, Dotson can get that corner and only speed and a good angle will catch him.
“His runs are impressive, there’s no doubt about it,” said Titans coach Matt Ray. “But we have lots of guys who can run the ball and he’s getting great help up front. He’s the first to admit that.”
The Titans have two other running backs averaging more than 10 yards a carry; Garrett Chapman averages 11.4 yards and junior Moses Paul, who looks and runs like Dotson, averages just over 10 yards. He played sparingly in the first half and got his first carry midway through the third quarter.
Then there’s senior fullback Devin Dye, all 240 pounds of trouble for defenders. If he’s not mowing a path for Dotson, he’s taking handoffs up the middle and inviting tacklers to go for a ride. Dye had 60 hard-fought yards Friday and Dotson said his good friend since second grade is likely to claim some of Dotson’s yards and TDs for his own.
“Yeah, he tries to take my TDs especially and says that without him I wouldn’t be getting any,” Dotson said. “The linemen like to say the same thing.”
But Dotson doesn’t care. He’ll gladly give up the yardage if it means a win.
Mark Billingsley is a Carmichael-based freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org, @editorwriter001