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Turnovers drown Orland's upset bid in Sutter
SUTTER - Two turnovers early in the second half cost the Orland High football team the opportunity to upset the heavily favored Sutter Huskies in the Northern Section Division II semifinals on Friday.
Sutter (12-0) pulled off the 14-6 comeback victory despite managing just four first downs in the second half against a dominant Orland defense.
"It's a bummer to come out on the (losing) side of it, but I think as far as them having a memory of giving it everything they had I think they can be proud, look themselves in the mirror and say yeah, I did it. I don't think anyone's played Sutter this well so I'm proud to be their coach," said Orland coach Mike McDonald.
A non-stop drizzle gave the ball a propensity to end up in the mud, which made passing an impossibility and hand-offs an adventure. Neither team topped the 160 total yards mark on offense and the teams completed a combined 2 of 19 passes.
The Trojans (9-3) took a 6-0 lead in the first half on two field goals by senior kicker Aldrick Rosas, but Orland coughed up the lead in a span of three minutes during the third quarter.
On Orland's second drive of the second half, Sutter safety Phillip Robledo returned a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown. Two plays later, defensive back Andy Brower returned an interception 25 yards to the 5-yard line. Alex Ingram then took a sweep in for a 1-yard touchdown on fourth down for a 14-6 lead with about three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Orland had a chance to tie the game with a touchdown and a two-point conversion, but Jordan Long's desperation fourth-down pass with 2:00 remaining bounced off two receivers and a defender before hitting the turf. Sutter gained a first down with the help of a facemask penalty against Orland that allowed the Huskies to kneel down twice and end it.
"I think (Sutter) did an excellent job up front moving Nathan Ahlers in at defensive tackle, I mean there was a series there where he made all four tackles. It didn't matter if it was a sweep or what it was, he was all over the place," McDonald said.
Sutter's first drive of the game ended when Orland defensive lineman Kody Royce knocked the ball loose with a blindside sack of Sutter quarterback Trent Little and defensive lineman Victor Raigoza recovered the fumble. The Trojans' celebration was short-lived because a few minutes later a drive of their own was torpedoed by a dropped pass, a low snap and a blocked punt on consecutive plays.
McDonald credits the defensive line for holding the Huskies powerful offense in check through all four quarters. Senior defensive end Ben Howard's constant pressure and play of defensive tackles Emmil Melgarejo and Benito Garcia, who McDonald believes are two of the best defensive tackles in the section, helped hold Sutter to 150 yards total offense.
Trojan linebackers Charlie Tice and Raigoza cleaned up any runners who slipped through the defensive line's grasp. Tice is an unlikely leader in the middle of the defense, McDonald said.
"Charlie Tice is kind of unassuming, I had a red flag go up on Charlie at middle linebacker, I mean, here is this little guy but nobody wanted to go against him in hitting drills," McDonald said. "He's the quarterback of that defense."
As good as the Trojans defense was, the Huskies were just as tough.
Zack Garzoli gained 59 of his game-high 85 rushing yards on one play in the first half. Orland ran for 141 yards on 36 carries and quarterback Jordan Long completed just 1 of 11 passes for 6 yards with an interception. Many of Long's incompletions were right on the money but the ball seemed to have as much grip as a block of ice and the receivers couldn't hang on.
"Long engineered this offense the last four games that we've had this season. The way people were defending us was - move all over the place, change fronts, roll in the middle and he's calling the play at the line of scrimmage, he's running the offense. He did a terrific job," McDonald said.
The Huskies (12-0) victory set up a showdown against No. 3 West Valley (11-1) on Saturday for the Division II title. West Valley beat Central Valley 13-10 in the other semifinal match-up.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.