Learning painful for Petaluma
Published: Monday, September 16, 2013 at 8:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 16, 2013 at 8:32 p.m.
There is a reason they're called growing pains.
Petaluma High's varsity football Trojans learned some painful lessons Saturday afternoon when they were beaten by Terra Linda's like-named Trojans, 33-18, in San Rafael.
The loss dropped Petaluma's inexperienced Trojans to 1-2 for the young season, while Terra Linda's more rapid Trojans improved to 2-1.
“We had too many mistakes,” noted Petaluma coach Ricky Krist. “We have a lot of guys who are still learning, and we are still making too many mistakes.”
While Petaluma's Trojans had mistakes, Terra Linda's Trojans had quarterback Easton English, who mesmerized Petaluma defenders, completing 14 of 23 passes for 268 yards. It seemed every time Petaluma appeared to have Terra Linda stopped, the quarterback made something big happen with either a pinpoint pass or a scrambling run.
“Their quarterback played an excellent game,” Krist complimented.
Despite the score, there were some good things for the Petalumans. After being pretty much befuddled in the first half, the Petaluma defense was staunch in the second, shutting the Marinites out after allowing five touchdowns over the first two quarters.
Jeremy Spaletta was a load on the Petaluma defensive front, ranging to both sides of the field to record nine tackles, seven solo, and a sack. Gabe Medina was also impressive with nine tackles, six solo. Defensive back Connor Dennison had a strong game defending against Terra Linda's passing attack, He was credited with eight tackles, six solo. The active Petaluma Linebacking corps was led by Kevin Crudo and Hunter Williams. Crudo had eight tackles and Williams seven.
Unfortunately, most of the defensive stiffness came in the second half after Terra Linda had put the game pretty much out of reach.
For the second straight game, Medina started the game in spectacular fashion for Petaluma, grabbing the opening kickoff right at the goal line, finding a gap to get to the right sideline and zooming away from the startled Terra Linda defenders all the way to the end zone. But, for the second straight game, his teammates messed up his spectacular, committing a blocking penalty that nullified the touchdown and moved the ball back to the 15-yard line.
Petaluma's disappointment was short lived. On the first play from scrimmage, Donavan Reece grabbed pitch from quarterback Patrick Bailey, and roared around the left side for the touchdown that had been denied Medina.
The PAT kick attempt by Greg Thomas was blocked, leaving Petaluma with a 6-0 lead that lasted only until Terra Linda's first drive. That took seven plays to cover 59 yards and ended with English bootlegging in from the 8-yard line. English kicked his own PAT to give Terra Linda a lead it never relinquished.
Things quickly spiraled out of control for Petaluma.
A fumble, the first of three Petaluma turnovers (two fumbles and a pass interception), gave Terra Linda a short field at the 43-yard line. Beau Reeve ate up most of those yards on one 31-yard gallop and scored himself from the 1-yard line. Petaluma went three and punt and Terra Linda drove right back, scoring on a fourth-and-17 connection between English and Kirby Dederian.
It went that way for the entire first half. Petaluma would seemingly stall its hosts, and English would pull a near miracle out of his bag of tricks.
Petaluma briefly interrupted the Terra Linda heroics when senior quarterback Patrick Bailey broke free for a 30-yard touchdown scamper, but before the half, Terra Linda had twice more violated the Petaluma end zone on English touchdown passes.
The second half was a different story.
Although Terra Linda pretty much stuck with its front line players, its version of the Trojans could do little against the suddenly pugnacious Petaluma defense.
Meanwhile, sophomore Brendan White took over at quarterback and the Petaluma offense showed some fire of its own.
Late in the third quarter, Luke Wheless slipped behind the Terra Linda defense and grabbed a 35-yard pass from White, to give Petaluma a sophomore-to-sophomore touchdown.
Petaluma had one more highlight, putting together an impressive goal line stand after Terra Linda had driven to the seven-yard line. The home team managed to get to the three, but Medina and Nick McClosey smothered a fourth-down play to keep Terra Linda scoreless for the half.
The overall numbers were not kind to the Petalumans, with Terra Linda running 80 plays to 42 for Petaluma, gaining 404 yards to 190 for Petaluma and ringing up 23 first downs to 11 for Petaluma.
However, the 190 total yards were Petaluma's best offensive production of the season. Of that total, 136 came on the ground, with seven different carriers contributing. Bailey, buoyed by his long run, led the way with 41 yards, with White adding 24, fullback Nikko Respeto 23, Reece, 22 and Medina 21.
Petaluma tries to bounce back Friday night with a home game against Jefferson High School from Daly City.
Petaluma's junior varsity won its third straight game, dominating the Terra Linda JVs, 38-6.
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