Friday night football

Granite Bay holds off Rocklin in thriller

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Greg Benzel bet on Rocklin High School’s offense rather than gambling with his defense. He had seen enough of Granite Bay’s offense for one night. Rocklin trailed by a point Friday night after Jimmy Laughrea’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Nick Williams with 4 seconds to play. Benzel kept kicker Seth Casiple on the sideline and went for the victory by going for a two-point conversion. When Laughrea’s pass sailed out of the end zone, the Grizzlies began to celebrate. Once they recovered Casiple’s onside kick, Granite Bay head coach Ernie Cooper could stop holding his breath. The 42-41 victory in Rocklin boosted Granite Bay to 3-1 in the Sierra Foothill League. The loss left Rocklin at 2-2 and opened the door for Benzel to be second-guessed by attempting to avoid overtime. “He’s going to take some heat by doing it,” Cooper said of Benzel, “but I told him I respect him for going for it.” Benzel defended his decision by saying he called a play “we liked, but we just didn’t execute it.” He added that the Grizzlies could have been penalized for pass interference on the play. Trying his luck with his offense made more sense to Benzel than thinking his defense could stop Granite Bay in overtime. Speaking of penalties, a yellow flag thrown with 8 seconds left resulted in both Benzel and Cooper hollering at the referees. The Thunder (6-3 overall) was penalized after Laughrea’s 2-yard run to Granite Bay’s 2-yard line when Benzel and two of his assistants were caught on the field as they yelled at their players. The penalty stopped the clock with 8 seconds left. Cooper then went nuts because he thought Rocklin’s coaches had strayed away from the sideline in a ploy to draw the flag and halt the clock. Rocklin was out of timeouts after using its last when Brian Macdonald was dropped for a 6-yard loss on first-and-goal at Granite Bay’s 3-yard line. “They weren’t going to get another play off. They didn’t have enough time,” Cooper said. “I didn’t know what they were doing. That’s when you stick that flag in your pocket.” As Cooper pleaded his case, he also wandered onto the field. His temper tantrum did not go unnoticed. Rocklin’s coaches pointed across the field and complained that Cooper should have also been penalized. Granite Bay’s junior varsity team made it a sweep with a 21-0 victory.