Tigers earn bounce-back blowout win over Bella Vista
Fresh off their first loss of the season, the Roseville Tigers came out strong and fast against the winless Bella Vista Broncos Friday night on the road.
Roseville forced two turnovers in the first quarter, added a safety on defense and scored a touchdown on every offensive possession in the first half en route to a 57-0 victory in league play.
The win bumps the Tigers up to 6-1 this season, which is good for a second-place tie with Whitney in the CVC.
“We did what we were supposed to do,” Cunha admitted. “Plus, getting our sixth win, I think that qualifies us for playoffs, so now we have to work on seeding these last three weeks. That’s a good position to be in.”
After narrowly missing the playoffs last year, the Tigers have now qualified the postseason in every other year dating back to 2010 and 2011 — the last time the team had back-to-back playoff seasons.
But Friday’s win also alleviated some of the stress associated with last Friday’s 42-7 defeat to Antelope at home. The team was admittedly beat in all three phases of the game and needed a bounce-back win to get back on track in league play.
“Last week’s loss was a reality check,” Roseville’s safety Jeriah Crawley admitted. “We came out flat, so that showed us what a good football team needs to be like. We need to understand that we have to always come out hard right out of the gate.”
That’s exactly what Roseville did Friday night against the Broncos.
After the opening kickoff, it took just one defensive snap for Roseville to get the ball back. The strip, fumble and recovery spurred a 30-point first quarter onslaught as the Tigers scratched the scoreboard early and often.
“We needed to come back and prove ourselves after last week,” linebacker Nico Andrada admitted. “We knew coming into this game that it was going to be slippery and wet, so we wanted to force as many fumbles as we could.”
Andrada and fellow linebacker Nicolas Enriquez helped create the team’s second turnover as they stood up Bella Vista’s Jermain Worthy and stripped the football from his hands. Roseville recovered as Brendan McMinn picked up the loose ball and scampered 14 yards to pay dirt to put his team in front 14-0.
“Nico was holding him up, so I went to grab the ball out of his hands and I got it out alright, but the ball was slippery and difficult to pick up right away,” McMinn explained. “But that was a big play for us and it’s exactly what we needed.”
After a safety from the Tigers defense, McMinn added two more touchdown runs — this time, on offense — to give his team a 30-0 lead heading into the second period.
McMinn let his fellow running back Jay Razzano carry a few defenders into the end zone on the Tigers’ first drive in the second quarter before he found the end zone for a fourth time, this one on a 14-yard screen TD pass.
The Tigers added one more score before halftime to ensure a running clock in the second half. With two minutes left in the half, Jeriah Crawley caught a punt at midfield, broke right and zig-zagged his way in for a touchdown to give his team a 50-0 lead.
“I wanted to make sure I had my footing because I slipped on the two returns before that,” Crawley pointed out. “I saw the right side of the field and it was all grass. Brendan had a nice block that opened it up and I just made the cutback at the end.”
Roseville attempted just two passes in the first half against Bella Vista, but still managed to accumulate 212 total yards of offense, including 76 kick return yards.
The Tigers added a seven yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter from Enriquez to cap the win and give the team momentum heading into their battle with Whitney next Friday.
“Whitney is a tough team and their passing attack is very dangerous,” Crawley acknowledged. “But honestly, I’m looking forward to seeing a new offense. We’ve never seen one like that.”
The Wildcats are also 6-1 this year, but they own a perfect 4-0 record in CVC play beating Oakmont, Ponderosa, Del Campo and Bella Vista by a combined 128 points.
Whitney has a handful of speedy receivers and two quarterback who have accounted for more than 2,000 yards through the air and 27 scores this season. The Tigers will need another standout performance from their defense if they hope to slow them down.
“We have to get better at covering in space because Whitney is explosive and we weren’t very good at that last week (against Antelope),” Cunha confessed. “We looked at the film and our guys know what we have to do. The fun part is that we get to play a big game at Hanson field.”
Kickoff for next week is slated for 7 p.m. in what could be the battle for second place in the CVC.
“We’re going to come out with guns blazing,” Andrada added.