Granite Bay football soars past LincolnBy: Ike Dodson■Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
STOCKTON − Josh Neal must have been a little jealous during a four-minute stretch that spanned six plays of Granite Bay High’s 36-21 victory over host Lincoln on Friday.
In an awkward span of events, officials heaved flags for an astounding six consecutive penalties during Granite Bay’s first drive of the third quarter.
Then Neal joined the throwing party.
The Grizzlies senior quarterback completed his next four passes for 87 yards, adding two third quarter scores as Granite Bay broke away from a 22-13 lead to award the Trojans of Stockton a fifth consecutive loss.
Neal finished 15 of 17 for 206 yards and four touchdowns (three passing). He was dynamic when targeting senior Marc Ellis, who caught eight passes for 105 yards and first-half touchdowns of 11 and 12 yards. Dylan Keeney also caught three passes for 65 yards and a 17-yard touchdown.
The aerial performance was a big reason for Granite Bay’s stellar finish to a 4-1 preseason.
“I feel like every night we got that connection, it’s just there,” Neal said afterwards. “We worked all summer and got it done.”
The Grizzlies were without leading rusher Tony Ellison, who departed last week’s win over Pittsburg with an early injury. In his absence, Granite Bay leaned on Neal to propel the offense and a steady push from nine total runners.
The Grizzlies rolled to 372 total yards, including 223 through the air (reserve quarterback Taylor Peterson threw for 17 yards). Michael Geraghty also ran 15 times for 55 yards and a two-yard dive into the end zone.
“Granite Bay, for 17 years now, has been about ‘next guy in,’” Granite Bay coach Skip Albano said. “They do the best they can to pick up where the other guy left off.”
Lincoln scored against Granite Bay reserves with 37 seconds to play, relying on a 95-yard drive in the final moments of the game to account for a large chunk of their 288 total yards of offense.
The Trojans made things interesting with a pair of Jamill Thomas (18 rushes, 102 yards) touchdowns in the first half, but didn’t muster an offensive yard in the third quarter and succumbed to four second-half sacks. Xavier Hunter, Arman Mizani, Eric Jarvis, Aaron Duke and Drew Tonda all sacked Lincoln quarterback Ravon Alexander. Hunter did it twice during the first three plays of the second half.
“That defense came out with a passion that they lacked in the first half,” Albano said. “I was pleased we came out with the ‘W’, but I’m telling you though, (Lincoln) came out fighting and we didn’t.
“I was not happy with that and they heard about it at halftime.”
The Grizzlies open Sierra Foothill League play with host Roseville on Oct. 11.
“These five games are all about fine-tuning the Grizzly machine,” Albano said. “That’s what we have talked about every week.
“Now its for real.”
Five foot, four inch, 125-pound Ethan Milner broke into the Lincoln backfield for a game-sealing tackle on fourth down, deep in Granite Bay territory with just over a minute to play.
His big stop allowed the JV Grizzlies to escape with a triumphant 24-20 defeat over the same Stockton players that awarded the Granite Bay freshmen a one-sided defeat a season ago.
“This was a huge win for us,” Granite Bay coach Marcus Stevens said. “We really played as a team tonight.”
Christian Fischer scored twice in the win while Kyle Kraft added a touchdown.
The Grizzlies end the preseason at a solid 3-2.
Follow Ike Dodson on twitter @Ike_Dodson.