Luke Baker’s strong first half leads San Ramon Valley to win over Acalanes

High School Football: San Ramon Valley moves to 2-0 with win over Acalanes Dons

LAFAYETTE — San Ramon Valley didn’t have the most visually appealing game. However, senior quarterback Luke Baker’s efficient first half gave the Wolves all they needed against Acalanes.

The Wolves defeated the Dons 44-21 on Friday night at Acalanes High School in Lafayette, moving their record to 2-0 after a rout of St. Ignatius in the first week. Acalanes now has a 0-2 record.

Baker led the Wolves to 34 points in the first half, including two passing touchdowns and a pair of rushing touchdowns. Senior running back John Pau Mendoza had two rushing touchdowns in the game. Baker was constantly on the move throughout the game, especially in the second half, sometimes for big rushing gains.

“He was efficient early,” said Aaron Becker, head coach. “I believe he would tell you that he can play better. I believe our expectations of him are so high that when he misses a few passes in a row, we panic.”

Baker is coming off a 307-yard outing against the Wildcats, during which he completed 19 of 25 passes. The Acalanes defense did everything they could to slow Baker and San Ramon Valley’s potent offense, especially in the red zone. Though the Wolves moved the ball downfield with relative ease, the Dons’ defense found ways to force a field goal and, in the second half, force turnovers on downs to keep the game alive.

Baker started the game with a quick drive down the field that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Pau Mendoza. Acalanes responded by converting two third-down conversions, with running back Jack Giorgianni’s 8-yard touchdown tying the game. San Ramon immediately responded with a touchdown drive highlighted by a long Baker run to the one-yard line and capped by a two-yard pass to receiver Hudson Brinton.

Acalanes was pinned to their own five-yard line after a muffed kick return and interception, but held the Wolves to a field goal at the end of the quarter to make it 17-7. A Dons fumble recovered by Mitch Bruno at the Acalanes 30-yard line in the second quarter set up Makai Vierra’s one-yard rushing touchdown.

The Dons clawed their way back into the game, 27-14, behind quarterback Sully Bailey, who rushed to midfield and converted on third-and-two with a completion to Trevor Rogers, setting up a touchdown pass to Henry Souza. However, with less than two minutes remaining, a failed onside kick recovered by Vierra put the Wolves on the Dons’ 44-yard line. Baker connected with Dylan Deitsch for a 16-yard touchdown pass to put San Ramon up 34-14 at the half.

The second half, however, would not be as high-scoring.

“I know he was disappointed in the second half,” Becker acknowledged. “Thought we could have done a little better and been more proficient.”

Acalanes went all-in in the second half, but despite strong defense and risky fourth-down plays, they couldn’t overcome the deficit. To begin the second half, the Dons turned the ball over on downs on their own 46 yard line, resulting in Pau Mendoza’s second rushing touchdown of the night.

“He ran fast. “He’s always running fast,” Becker said. “He finds a small crack and gets through it.”

Later, the Dons threatened, making up for a fumble by forcing a San Ramon turnover on downs on their own 25. Acalanes scored on a one-yard pass in the fourth quarter, but the game was already won.

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