Unbeaten no more: Pittsburg falls to Folsom in a tense NorCal championship game

Pittsburg had a shot to win late in fourth quarter but a tough spot on a fourth-down run helps seal the Bay Area team’s fate.

FOLSOM — Pittsburg’s perfect season under new head coach Charlie Ramirez, which included league and section championships and 13 victories, came to an end on a damp and cool Saturday night near the Sierra foothills.

One of the oldest football cliches is that it is a game of inches.

The axiom rang true for the Bay Area visitors as they watched Folsom celebrate a Northern California Division 1-A regional championship they thought would be theirs.

The home team won 28-25, led by sophomore quarterback Ryder Lyons, who ran for three touchdowns and passed for another.

“We knew what they were going to do; they did it,” Ramirez explained. “We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot with unnecessary penalties.” Overall, it was a fairly clean game. We compelled some turnovers. We completed the tasks at hand.

“When it came down to the end, we couldn’t get off the field when we needed to and we had a couple of missed plays here and there or it could have been a much different outcome.”

With five minutes remaining, Lyons connected with Jameson Powell from 15 yards out for a touchdown that made the score 21-18.

The ensuing kickoff was returned 43 yards to the Pittsburg 45 by Jamar Searcy.

The Pirates started marching downfield right away, as Searcy ran for 10 yards and moved the chains again with a 1-yard run to the Folsom 35.

On fourth-and-8 from the 33, quarterback Marley Alcantara rolled right, tucked the ball under his arm, and sprinted toward the first down marker four snaps later.

“I definitely got it,” said Alcantara. “I saw the marker on the ground without a doubt.” I know I didn’t cross any lines. It was just a bad location.”

The ball was placed between the 25 and 26.

Folsom took possession and drove downfield again after the measurement went against Pittsburg, taking advantage of a personal foul and unsportsmanlike penalties that moved the Bulldogs to the 11.

Lyons increased the lead to 28-18 with a 9-yard push-the-pile run with 1:13 remaining. The ball was knocked loose at the goal line by Pittsburg (13-1) and a sideline official dropped his beanbag at the 1 to signal a fumble, which the visitors recovered.

The officials in the middle of the field, however, ruled that Lyons had crossed the goal line before losing the ball.

The touchdown effectively ended the game.

When told that Alcantara thought he had the first down with the score 21-18, Ramirez replied, “I thought so too.” On top of that, it could have received a late hit. But you can’t answer every call. It’s a game of inches, and I believe that’s what the score indicated — 28 to 25. That was it, the last couple of inches where we were on the shorter side.”

Pittsburg began the game as flawlessly as its undefeated record. On their first series, the Pirates drove 73 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 4-yard pass from Alcantara to Jadyn Hudson for a 7-0 lead.

Lyons’ 1-yard run with 4.9 seconds left in the first quarter pulled Folsom (12-2) even.

Lyons scored from the 4 to put the home team ahead 14-7 with 6:59 remaining before halftime.

The quarterback gained 123 yards on 27 carries and 188 yards passing.

“We played with a lot of passion, grit, and toughness,” Lyons said of his team, which will face St. Bonaventure-Ventura for the 1-A state title on Saturday at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. “You will face some adversity.” Pitt will make a few plays. You must stand up and fight.”

Pittsburg responded with a 14-yard touchdown run by Searcy, set up by the running back’s 27-yard run, cutting the deficit to 14-13. The PAT was disabled.

Moments later, Searcy forced a fumble that Charlie Taufa recovered, leading to Jesus Lua Amaya’s 29-yard field goal on the final snap of the first half, which put Pittsburg up 16-14 at the half.

Early in the fourth quarter, Pittsburg had a chance to extend its slim lead. However, it came to a halt inside the 10, and its field-goal attempt was blocked.

The next score came from the Pittsburg defense, as a bobbled Folsom snap resulted in Japheth Tofaeono tackling Lyons in the end zone for a safety, extending the Pirates’ lead to 18-14. But that was just the prelude to the drama that ended Pittsburg’s season one victory short of a state championship.

Searcy led the Pirates with 115 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, while Alcantara passed for 157 yards and two touchdowns.

“This is my first year being the starting quarterback and them being able to follow behind me and take my lead and being to trust me for what I do and what I see on the field — even though I make mistakes — I just love them with all my heart,” Alcantara said in a statement. “Just being able to grind every single day with these brothers, I will forever call them brothers.”

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply