Momentum is the seed of confidence in football; the ever important quality every team wants and needs, especially those looking to build on their first win. Delhi High knew it needed to get out to a quick start against Ripon Christian High if Saturday night was going to end in victory, and for the first two quarters the Hawks (1-3 SAL) did just that.
After a 12-play, 75-yard opening scoring drive and a strong defensive stand that ended in a turnover on downs on RC’s part, the Hawks temporarily relinquished some of their first half momentum when Knight quarterback Danny Vos hit Spencer Hower with a 75 yard touchdown pass to tie the game. Things nearly took a turn for the worst when, on the subsequent drive, Delhi missed a 28 yard field goal but a Joseph Cantu interception on the Knight’s next possession re-energized the Hawks, setting them up on RC’s 8 yard line. Two plays later Corey Figueroa ran off tackle and into the end zone to give the Hawks their second lead of the night and the belief that the game was theirs to win.
“We were trying to get off to a better start than we have been in previous games because up until now every game we’ve been in has been a come from behind situation,” Delhi’s Head Coach Rod McCombs said. “Our defensive game plan was to take away their running game and I felt we did that.”
While Delhi did its job in stifling RC’s Andrew Brown and the running game, it didn’t do much to defend against Vos’ arm. The Knights (4-0 SAL) attacked the Hawk secondary with big plays to Brown and Hower, eventually tying the score with less than three minutes in the half on a 7 yard pass to Brown. The two teams entered halftime knotted at 14-14 but RC had already begun to drain Delhi’s momentum.
“Teams have beaten us with deep balls all year,” McCombs said.
The Knights’ offense continued to press the pass in the second half, taking their first lead of the night with a 15 yard pass to Hower in the third quarter. RC’s effective passing game opened fresh holes for its running game too, leading to a Brown rushing touchdown from one yard out and a 28-14 lead.
While Delhi’s defense struggled to contain its opponent, the Hawk offense continued its rushing attack with Cantu, Figueroa, and fullback Ryan Saavedra. Delhi again found the end zone in the fourth quarter as Saavedra rushed for his second touchdown of the night but the offense stalled shortly after that. Quarterback Garret Thomas was consistently rushed and flushed from the pocket during rare pass attempts and was ultimately sacked three times as he tried to mount a fourth quarter comeback. RC finalized its victory after Brown scored his second score of the night with only minutes left in regulation. The final score was 37-21.
“We kept fighting but we just made mistakes we weren’t making in the first half,” McCombs said. “Their resilient though and they never give up despite the fact that they are so young. Our offense was able to drive the ball on one of the top teams in our league so that’s a good sign.”
Cantu finished the night with 100 rushing yards on 18 attempts and Figueroa finished with a combined 89 yards.
Delhi faces Mariposa County High at home on Friday.
“We’re taking it one game at a time and we’re hoping to finish by running the tables these last three games,” McCombs said.