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Happy homecoming for Casa Grande football team

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Casa Grande delighted a big football homecoming crowd on Friday by surprising Sonoma Valley, 40-7. The Gauchos (2-5) put the contest out of reach after intermission when they scored two quick touchdowns to cap their best offensive showing of the season.

The long-time rivals were meeting on the gridiron for the first time since both were members of the Sonoma County League in 2011. It appeared to be an even match-up prior to the game, with the Dragons rolling into town with a 2-1 league record that included wins over Napa and Justin-Siena. The visitors, however, had trouble getting untracked, falling victim to six penalties, two fumbles and a pass interception that combined to stymie their offense in the first half.

The tone of the game was set midway through the first quarter when a bad snap on an attempted punt by the Dragons forced a turnover on the Sonoma Valley 15-yard line. Two plays later, running back Matt Herrera got Casa on the scoreboard with a 12-yard scoring scamper.

At the beginning of the second quarter, the Gauchos took advantage of a fumble recovery to put another scoring drive together from near mid-field. Jack Green powered this one into the end zone from a couple of yards out to make it 13-0.

Another fumble recovery helped the Gauchos set up inside the midfield line, and they scored on two plays when quarterback Jadon Bosarge hooked up with Dominick McHale on a 28-yard scoring pass to make it 19-0 at intermission.

At no time was the Dragon offense completely put in check by Casa. Positive runs by backs Ryan Sherwood and Andrew Beatty appeared to set the Sonoma offense in motion, but its repeated turnovers continued to give the Gauchos scoring opportunities. Sherwood broke a 16-yarder and Beatty added a 9-yard run before Sonoma turned over the ball on downs before intermission.

McHale, who caught four passes for 70 yards for the Gauchos, also made an acrobatic interception near the end of the first half.

Sonoma lost any chance to crawl back into the contest when Casa Grande scored twice after intermission on touchdowns by Herrera and a pass completion of five yards from Bosarge to Carson Kerrigan.

Bosarge put the finishing touches on a notable offensive game by dashing 65 yards around the right edge, breaking two Dragon tackles along the way. Overall, the signal caller finished with 107 yards on the ground while tossing for an additional 217 yards.

Sonoma got on the board in the final quarter when alternating quarterback Jake Baker caught the Gaucho defenders looking toward the middle on a keeper, and motored untouched into the end zone from 45 yards out. There wasn’t a Gaucho defender within 5 yards of the streaking Baker.

The win by the Gauchos gives them a Vine Valley Athletic League record of 2-1 and some expected momentum heading into a road contest on Friday against winless Napa.

Nate Busse topped the Gaucho receivers with three catches for 77 yards.

Defensively, Mathew Murphy (220) had a sack and a fumble for coach Denis Brunk’s Gauchos. Jordan Gramajo added a couple of key stops, including one for a loss. Quintin Lopez and McHale turned in Casa interceptions.

Sherwood, who averages seven yards per carry for the Dragons, led his team with 64 yards, while Beatty added 60. Sherwood also made some important stops at outside linebacker, and he got help from Lawson Lee, who pounced on a Gaucho fumble in the final quarter.

In the preliminary game, Sonoma Valley nearly drove the length of the field to overhaul the Gauchos’ 7-6 advantage, but fell short on an incomplete pass as time ran out. The win gives the Gaucho JVs a record of 6-1.