Petaluma High School's football Trojans pretty much had their way with Analy's Sonoma County League champion Tigers Friday night in Sebastopol. Petaluma's game plan going into the battle was to control the high-flying Tigers by keeping the ball for extended periods of time, and they did just that, running off 73 plays to just 39 for Analy. Petaluma had twice as many first downs as the Tigers, 18 to nine.
Unfortunately for Petaluma, when the Tigers had the football they scored, especially mini-Godzilla running back Ja'Narrick James who counted three touchdowns to lead Analy to a deceptive 42-13 win over the trying Trojans.
The victory completed a perfect run to the SCL title for the Tigers who finished the regular season with a 6-0 league mark and an overall 9-1 record. Petaluma is now 4-5 on the season and 2-3 in the SCL with a chance to even both records when it finishes out the regular season next Friday with a home game against Sonoma Valley.
Every time Petaluma would belt the Tigers with a succession of time-consuming body blows Friday night, the Tigers would quickly jab right back.
After the Trojans had kept the ball for the game's first seven minutes on an impressive opening drive that was stopped just inside the Tiger 30, Ken Johnson, Jr. took a short pass from Will Smith and was quickly gone 89 yards for the touchdown that gave Analy the lead for good.
In perhaps its best drive of the season, Petaluma's front line of Nick McCloskey, Justin Mahrt, Chris Remple, Joey Reed, Travis Plank and Kevin Crudo pushed the bigger Tigers aside and led the way for an 80-yard drive capped off by Gabe Medina's 4-yard run. When Greg Thomas strongly booted a 32-yard field goal to cut the Analy lead to 14-10 just before the end of the half, the Trojans definitely had Analy's attention.
After a kickoff into the end zone by Thomas, everything turned around. With just a minute remaining until talk time, and the Trojans deployed in a deep defense expecting a desperation pass, Analy give the ball to James who jet streamed unmolested 80 yards for a touchdown that upped the Tiger advantage to 21-10, but perhaps more importantly put Joe Momentum back in an Analy uniform.
Petaluma continued to play hard and put together another impressive drive at the outset of the second half, but the third quarter belonged to James and the Tigers, who, with eye blink swiftness, put the game out of reach,
Petaluma owned the ball most of the quarter, chewing up seven minutes with a methodical 62-yard march that culminated with Thomas' second field goal of the evening, a 30-yard shot that cut the Analy advantage to 21-13.
But the Tigers sizzled right back with James blasting 18 yards with a tackle-shedding touchdown run.
A Trojan fumble gave the ball right back to the Tigers and James almost immediately zipped 27 yards for his third touchdown, upping the score to 35-13 and taking what was left of the wind out of the Trojan sails.
Petaluma made a final futile push in the fourth quarter, driving to the Analy 16 before a pair of penalties took them out of scoring range, and Analy finished things off on a 17-yard touchdown run by Alishua Johnson.