Making mush of the Acorns
In a seesaw battle highlighted by big plays, the Truckee High varsity football team pulled out a 35-32 comeback victory against non-league opponent Live Oak in the final minute of regulation Saturday in Truckee.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, though, the comeback belonged to Live Oak, a school of more than 1,800 students in Morgan Hill, Calif.
Had it been a college or NFL game, home fans would have been streaming toward the parking lot in attempt to beat traffic, disheartened that their team allowed three unanswered touchdowns and blew a 21-12 halftime lead. If any fans did depart with the Wolverines trailing 32-21 with about seven minutes on the clock, they missed an exciting finish.
“We kept our composure and mindset that we still had a chance to win,” said Truckee Head Coach Bob Shaffer. “It was kind of a gut check.
“It makes you feel good about the kids when they fight until the end.”
Wolverines senior safety John Hooper, who watched from the sidelines with a sprained ankle, also was impressed by his team’s performance late in the game.
“It was a good effort,” Hooper said. “I didn’t think we had a chance at the end, but we showed a lot of heart and never gave up.”
After bringing the game back to within five points ” to 32-27 ” on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Ben Tonon, Truckee’s chances of winning seemed remote when fullback Drew Stewart fumbled the ball to Live Oak with 2:34 to play.
Then things got wild.
Live Oak returned the favor, fumbling the ball back to Truckee with 1:16 remaining. Working from the Live Oak 44-yard line, Wolverines quarterback Robert Jones threw what appeared to be an interception. But there was a flag indicating pass interference, and Truckee scooted 10 yards closer to victory.
After a Jones-Tonon pass completion to the 20-yard line, Live Oak interfered again on a pass attempt to Brandon Peterson, putting the ball on the 10-yard line with 36 seconds remaining.
Two plays later, on second-and-10 with no time outs and 30 seconds left, Jones lobbed with perfect touch a pass that Peterson caught over his shoulder for a touchdown.
“There was no doubt that we were going to score once we got the ball back,” Jones said.
To cap the 44-yard game-winning drive, Izzy Serna dug a low snap from the turf on the extra point attempt, popped to his feet and tossed the ball into the arms of streaking tight end Alfredo Oropeza.
The score: 35-32, Truckee, with 21 seconds to play.
An incomplete pass later Truckee linebacker Scott Decker made an interception to end the game.
Both teams proved capable in the first quarter of breaking long runs. After Live Oak did so for the game’s initial score, Tonon responded with his own 56-yard touchdown run, shedding would-be tacklers before pulling away in the open field. After a botched extra point, the score was tied at 6.
Starting around their own 30-yard line after forcing a turnover on downs, Jones found Peterson for a completion, followed by another in which Peterson snatched the ball from above his head and out-raced his defender 52 yards for a touchdown. Jones completed a pass to Tonon in the corner of the end zone for the two-point conversion.
The ensuing possession for Live Oak resulted in yet another long touchdown run by speedy and elusive running back Dustin Muhr, who created problems for Truckee’s defense the entire game.
Peterson in the second quarter grabbed a pass from Jones near the sidelines, cut back towards the field, away from his defender, and ran for a 24-yard touchdown, his second of the game.
With the Wolverines leading 21-12 late in the second quarter and Live Oak marching steadily down the field, Truckee defensive end Kyle Steverman used every bit of his 6-foot-6-inch frame to reach up and snag a pass for an interception.
The lead was preserved entering the half.
“We thought the first half we played pretty good, except for the missed tackles that resulted in big plays,” Shaffer said.
Muhr, the guy responsible for the majority of Live Oak’s big plays, made another one in the third quarter, breaking away from Truckee defenders at about the 50-yard line and sprinting to another touchdown.
Live Oak scored two quick touchdowns at the start of the fourth quarter to take a 32-21 lead. But the Acorns did not find the end zone again, and they could not keep out the Wolverines. The rest is history.
Rushing: Truckee, Drew Stewart 7-28, Ben Tonon 14-142, Tony Krasensky 10-38, Robert Jones 1-7, total 32-215.
Passing: Robert Jones 14-20-0 257 (4 TD passes), Izzy Serna 1-1-0-3.
Receiving: Tonon 5-70, Alfredo Oropeza 1-3, Brandon Peterson 9-184.
Scoring: Peterson 3 TD, Tonon 2 TD.
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.