They were out of sync, out of sorts and nearly out of it early, and that’s what happens when facing a motivated bunch big on ability and swagger eager to back up its boast from a year ago.
Top-ranked Folsom High School trailed 10-0 after the first quarter on Friday night at Hughes Stadium against No. 7 Sacramento. However, the Bulldogs overcame myriad mistakes and the Dragons’ speed and ferocity to grind out a 28-19 victory to cap nonleague play.
For a team known for its prolific offense and playing fast and ferocious, the Bulldogs (4-0) relied on defense and special teams to avoid another upset loss.
Kaiden Bennett’s 10-yard touchdown run with 49 seconds to go sealed it for the Bulldogs. The junior quarterback wasn’t at his best after dazzling in three routs this season, but he was on the mark with touchdown strikes of 28 and 46 yards to Elijah Badger, and he, Brandon Rupchock and Daniyel Ngata ran hard to chew the clock and salt away the Dragons (2-1) on the clinching drive.
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On this weekend a year ago, Sacramento stunned Folsom 33-29 to halt the Bulldogs’ state-leading 48-game regular-season winning streak and area-record 52-game winning streak against Sac-Joaquin Section opposition.
It was a credit then to Sacramento’s playmaking ability that included two defensive touchdowns, sparking the milestone victory that moved the Dragons to No. 1 by The Bee for the first time since the 1960s.
On Friday, Dylan Jorge returned an interception 25 yards to put Folsom up 21-13 with 1:16 to go in the third, and the Bulldogs blocked a 37-yard field goal attempt with 8:22 left while nursing a 21-19 lead.
Esau Perez had two field goals for Sacramento, which received touchdown passes of 27 and 13 yards to Anthony Bradley and Juwan Tanner, respectively. Bradley also had two interceptions in looking the part of one of the region’s best two-way players (he had an interception return and a touchdown catch against Folsom last season).
“We weren’t at our best, but we did enough and we came away with the statistic that matters most, the win,” Folsom coach Kris Richardson said. “We’ll go over film, we’ll improve. Hat’s off to Sacramento.”
Richardson said before the game that his team was the underdog because the Dragons stung them last season, adding, “We’ve got to redeem ourselves.”
The Sacramento loss last season served as good medicine for the Bulldogs, who stormed back to a section final for the seventh successive season. It can be a wake-up call again because the Sierra Foothill League schedule that includes No. 2 Granite Bay, No. 3 Oak Ridge, No. 5 Del Oro and No. 6 Rocklin and figures to be daunting.
Sacramento, meanwhile, knows it can compete with anyone – again. The Dragons expect to roll through the Metropolitan Conference again and be a high seed in the Division II playoffs, with a score to settle. Sacramento was upset by Inderkum in a second-round game.
The Dragons returned 18 starters from last season, including linebacker Jaime Cousey, who had two sacks and also ran hard at tailback.