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Timberwolves 'Rammed' in season opener

Missed opportunities highlight tough night for Woodcreek
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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After dominating the game for the first quarter and into the second, the Woodcreek High football team watched momentum flee to the far sideline in one short second-quarter spurt as it dropped its season opener 23-7 to Casa Roble Friday night. Playing in front of its home crowd, Woodcreek kept the ball in its offensive end of the field for almost the entire first quarter. A critical holding penalty on their first offensive series took a 23-yard Matt Mazzuca to Brandon McBride touchdown pass off the board and moved the Timberwolves back to the Rams’ 42-yard-line on a drive that ended in a punt. The third Woodcreek possession began after a fumble recovery at the Casa Roble 30, and the Timberwolves got as close as the eight-yard-line before a missed field goal left the game scoreless with 9:29 to play before intermission. That missed opportunity proved deadly as the Rams wasted no time in cashing in it. On its third play of the ensuing drive, Casa Roble scored on a 65-yard scoring toss from Justin Tann to D.J. Muses to light the scoreboard for the first time. “We are stout against the run,” said Woodcreek coach John Hildebrand. “We better figure out how to defend the pass. That really hurt us tonight.” It went from bad to worse for Woodcreek as its next possession ended with Casa’s Aaron Saulguzman blocking a Mazzuca punt to put the Rams right back in business. Tann hit Muses again from seven yards out to increase the advantage to 13-0. The Timberwolves finally found some offensive continuity in the two-minute drill to close out the half, as Mazzuca completed passes to Blake Cervantes and Dylan Zuverink as he moved his squad down the field from his own 27 to the Casa Roble five-yard-line with six seconds remaining. “Matt is gutty,” Hildebrand said. “I can’t remember a bad decision tonight. He needs to work on tempo a bit, but it was his first varsity start and it was a good first start.” Woodcreek was prepared to settle for three points, but a low snap from center turned into a fortuitous bounce, as reserve quarterback Ryan Kovach alertly pulled the ball out and rolled away from pressure. The junior found Demetrio Cardenas in the front of the end zone, giving the Timberwolves an unexpected touchdown and sending the game to the break at 13-7. “How many times did we get inside their 40 tonight,” Hildebrand said. “We got some things going and then shot ourselves in the foot. Even the touchdown was a bit of a fluke since we were going for the field goal.” The Timberwolves were never able to break electric running back James Nunley free for one of his patented big runs, and the second half was an exercise in missed chances as Woodcreek watched Casa score on its first offensive play of the half, as Anthony Santiago dashed 49 yards to pay dirt, breaking the Timberwolves’ backs. “We had James going here and there, but it was start-and-stop,” Hildebrand said. Woodcreek (0-1) is at Placer next Friday night. Woodcreek did get the junior varsity game by a 13-7 count.