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Granite Bay avenges loss to St. Mary's

Defense shines in second half; Keeney has a hand in all five TDs
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Granite Bay High School’s defense grew up at halftime Friday night.

The Grizzlies, shoved around and picked apart for nearly 300 total yards in the first half, held St. Mary’s to 54 yards rushing in the second half and 155 total, and senior quarterback Brendan Keeney had a hand in all five touchdowns as Granite Bay defeated the visiting Rams 35-28.

Jalen Ward gave St. Mary’s leads of 7-0, 14-7 and 21-14 with touchdown runs of 21, 25 and seven yards in the first half on his way to 125 yards in just 15 carries. Granite Bay held the 5-foot-10, 192-pound senior to 44 yards in 12 carries in the second half, including eight carries of two yards or fewer.

Grizzlies head coach Ernie Cooper said he asked for the honor of firing up the defense at halftime, a task usually handled by coordinator Tim Harrington.

“I said, ‘Let me have this one. You guys X and O it,’ ” Cooper said. “Not that I did anything magical. I just said, ‘Hey, we gotta grow up tonight, right now, because we gave up a lot of points last week.’ I don’t know how many points we gave up in the second half, but that’s where the games are won. We bowed our back a little bit, and we got it done.”

Coming off a 43-37 victory over Reed last week in Sparks, Nev., Granite Bay (2-0) allowed St. Mary’s one touchdown in the second half in avenging a 41-35 loss to the Rams last season in Stockton.

Alec Naki nearly made an interception on one play and made an interception on the next play. Senior Austin Paulhus, who spent the majority of the first half on the bench because of an injury, played with a full tank of gas in the second half on a hot night. Junior J.R. Calton had a huge game, and Spencer Briare, Jacob Erickson, Gustavo Cruz and Spencer Casonguay plugged gaps and made stops.

“Austin Paulhus … was the guy making all those plays in the second half,” Cooper said. “Both teams were done in the second half. I was tired. I’m not even doing anything.”

Meanwhile, Keeney and the Granite Bay offense did plenty. The three-year starter threw four touchdown passes and gave the Grizzlies the lead for good with a three-yard keeper early in the fourth quarter, less than two minutes after St. Mary’s tied the score at 28.

Keeney made two accurate strikes to Adam Wagner for touchdowns of 29 and 19 yards. He hit Briare with a six-yard scoring pass in the second period and made a 13-yard lob to Ian Mook to tie the score at 21.

Keeney also rushed seven times for 79 yards, including a 51-yard sprint on fourth and three that gave Granite Bay a first and goal at the 8-yard line in the second quarter. He hit Briare for a score two plays later. Keeney didn’t practice all week because of a slight injury and was “on fire” Thursday, according to Cooper.

“First half, Brendan was dialed in. He’s the man,” Cooper said. “The two quarterbacks on this field (Friday night), there are some good quarterbacks in our section. I’m going to put those two in the top three; that kid from Whitney (Jake Rodrigues) also.”

St. Mary’s quarterback Bowe Merin threw for 244 yards and a touchdown.
With the defense stuffing St. Mary’s in the second half, Granite Bay pounded the Rams on the ground. Gavin Andrews, Kevin Blank, Colton Sviba, Justin Ramirez and Koki Arai opened holes for Arik Bird, who carried 22 times and gained 133 of his 190 yards in the second half. Granite Bay rushed for 302 of its 411 yards.

“Last year, we had them. This year, we were focusing on being that fourth-quarter team,” Andrews said. “Our quote this year is, ‘Get nasty,’ and we were getting pretty nasty at it. That’s what we do.”

Granite Bay 35, St. Mary’s 28
St. Mary’s    14     7   0   7 — 28
Granite Bay    7   21   0   7 — 35
SM — Ward 21 run (Farnsworth kick)
GB — Wagner 29 pass from Keeney (Bermudez kick)
SM — Ward 25 run (Farnsworth kick)
GB — Briare 6 pass from Keeney (Bermudez kick)
SM — Ward 7 run (Farnsworth kick)
GB — Mook 13 pass from Keeney (Bermudez kick)
GB — Wagner 19 pass from Keeney (Bermudez kick)
SM — Brusa 17 pass from Merin (Farnsworth kick)
GB — Keeney 3 run (Bermudez kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISICS

RUSHING — St. Mary’s, Ward 27-169, Pasqual 4-24, McGee 2-7, Merin 3-8. Granite Bay, Bird 22-190, Partridge 8-26, Keeney 7-79, Mook 2-7, Cooley 1-0.
PASSING — St. Mary’s, Merin 15-30-1, 244. Granite Bay, Keeney 8-16-0, 109.
RECEIVING — St. Mary’s, Pasqual 6-107, Brusa 4-44, Somers 2-35, Mafi 2-33, Dike 1-25. Granite Bay, Wagner 4-74, Mook 1-13, Bird 1-8, Partridge 1-8, Briare 1-6.