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Tigers run with Vacaville for a while

Roseville seniors Cunha, Lambert put up big numbers in final game
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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VACAVILLE — It began in early August with a few dozen brand-new helmets stacked in the coaches’ office at Roseville High School, just waiting to be worn. It ended Thursday night with Tigers coach Larry Cunha hugging every player, many of whom were openly emotional, on the cold, soft Bermuda grass at Tom Zunino Stadium.

The coach was emotional, too, though he at least appeared to hold it together until embracing his senior son, quarterback Zac Cunha.

High school football ended for Roseville’s seniors with a 54-34 loss to powerful Vacaville in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs.

“I was crying before that, but that’s all right. This one’s obviously special just because I have the tie-in when the kids came in. Watching them come up as freshmen, sophomores, juniors, there’s a special connection, and they’ve been a good group at times, a great group at times, and a frustrating group at times,” he said with a nod and a grin. “They’re teenagers, so when you spend as much time with kids, you get close, you bond; it’s just tough emotionally. Obviously, with your own son going out, that makes it a little tougher.”

Fourth-seeded Vacaville (10-1) scored on its first play, an 83-yard blast by Melvin Mason, and led 13-0 after a 65-yard scoring run by Jacob Te’o. The Bulldogs rolled up 622 yards rushing and 701 total. Mason rushed for 366 yards in 22 carries and added touchdowns of 45, 31 and 43 yards. Curtis Goins had 149 yards and three touchdowns in 20 carries. Te’o gained 89 yards in just five carries before being injured late in the first half.

But Roseville stuck around, and a 16-yard touchdown pass from Zac Cunha to senior Casey Lambert pulled the Tigers within 27-21 at halftime.

Senior lineman Tobin Gramyk recovered a fumble on the first possession of the second half, junior Grant Jansen scored on a five-yard run three plays later, and with senior Favio Torres’ extra-point kick, the 13th-seeded Tigers (5-6) had a 28-27 lead.

“We pushed them for 2½ quarters. And they’re a good football team,” Larry Cunha said. “We showed glimpses of how explosive we could be. In that respect, I’m very proud of our guys.”

Vacaville roared right back with three consecutive touchdowns to take a 47-28 lead. Lambert scored the Tigers’ final touchdown on a two-yard run with 3:20 remaining and finished his varsity career by rushing for 148 yards in 23 carries and catching four passes for 65 yards.

His two-year rushing totals were 427 carries for 3,365 yards (7.9 yards per carry) and 30 touchdowns.

“Casey had a great two-year run, one we haven’t seen since Pokey Eckford,” Larry Cunha said. “It’s been 20 years plus. Casey was dinged up from time to time. He’s outstanding.”

Zac Cunha passed for 252 yards and two scores, the first a 16-yarder to senior Trevor Meyling. Cunha ran seven yards for Roseville’s first touchdown, and Roseville rolled up 469 total yards.

Cunha completed 111 of 232 passes, including 24 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. With 2,283 yards, Cunha fell short of Nick Blaser’s single-season school record of 2,454 in the 2009 season.

Finally, senior Cody Lindner added a 40-yard catch to his school single-season record for yards receiving. His total of 1,086 yards broke Beau Smith’s record of 1,039, set last season, and Lindner accomplished the feat against competition that included powers Pleasant Grove, Folsom, Vacaville and every opponent in the Sierra Foothill League.

“I would say this group played the toughest schedule in the section, as verified by opponents’ wins, and made it to the playoffs, and I think that deserves a great deal of credit and respect,” Larry Cunha said. “We had a couple injuries that hurt us severely, but we didn’t make excuses. We threw people in there, and the kids kept battling. And I’m extremely proud of our guys for what they accomplished.”

VACAVILLE 54, ROSEVILLE 34

Roseville    6   15     7    6 — 34
Vacaville   19    8   12   15 — 54

Vaca — Mason 83 run (White kick)
Vaca — Te’o 65 run (kick blocked)
Rose — Cunha 7 run (kick failed)
Vaca — Mason 45 run (pass failed)
Rose — Meyling 16 pass from Cunha (Torres kick)
Vaca — Goins 33 run (Sweany pass from Christensen)
Rose — Lambert 16 pass from Cunha (Lindner pass from Cunha)
Rose — Jansen 5 run (Torres kick)
Vaca — Mason 31 run (run failed)
Vaca — Goins 1 run (pass failed)
Vaca — Goins 3 run (Trueblood run)
Rose — Lambert 2 run (kick wide)
Vaca — Mason 43 run (White kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Roseville, Lambert 23-148, Cunha 8-39, Jansen 5-30. Vacaville, Mason 22-366, Goins 20-149, Te’o 5-89, Trueblood 4-18.
PASSING — Roseville, Cunha 12-33-0, 252. Vacaville, Christensen 4-4-0, 79.
RECEIVING — Roseville, Lambert 4-65, Allin 2-53, Cassidy 2-50, Meyling 2-27, Lindner 1-40, Monsen 1-17. Vacaville, Goins 3-62, Fischer 1-27.