ELK GROVE — For 36 minutes, the Ponderosa football team stayed within striking distance of host Elk Grove in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoff opener Friday night before three, fourth-quarter touchdowns cemented the Thundering Herd’s 41-0 victory over the Bruins.
Ponderosa, the No. 14 seed, trailed 21-0 entering the fourth quarter before Elk Grove’s (10-1) Robert Frazier scored on a 43-yard end around with 11:02 left in the game.
On the ensuing drive, the Bruins appeared headed toward Herd territory when quarterback Jake Bist hit tight end Ralph Raetz for a 22-yard gain to their own 40. But two plays later, Herd defensive end Casey Whalen recovered a Bruin fumble in the end zone to increase the advantage to 35-0.
“We made a couple of mistakes in the second half that opened the game up,” Ponderosa head coach Jason Tenner said.
Elk Grove wasted little time in scoring its final touchdown in the quarter when defensive end Bwon Canada picked off a Bist pass and returned it 15 yards for the final score. The Bruins drove to the Herd’s 1-yard drive on the ensuing drive, but time expired to end the game.
“My hats off to them,” said Tenner of the Herd. “They are a great group. I told them (Tenner’s players after the game) we exceeded everyone’s expectations this year. Our kids fought. I’m proud of them.”
Frazier and Wadus Parker led the Elk Grove ground attack. Both also started on defense. Though the Bruins hoped to wear down the duo they instead picked up energy as the game progressed.
“That was part of our game plan,” Tenner said.
“We were dedicated, we bonded together and just clicked,” added Bruins wide receiver Christian Canepa about this year’s team. “It’s not how we wanted to end the season, but it was a great year for us.”
Elk Grove, which only led 14-0 at halftime, scored its third touchdown in the third quarter as Parker scored on a 2-yard run. The Bruins played the entire second half without middle linebacker Jeff Camilli due to injury.
Ponderosa had the ball in Elk Grove territory twice in the first half. One drive ended on a missed 29-yard field goal. The Thundering Herd scored in the first and second quarters: Frazier on a 68-yard run and Spencer Sheff on a 34-yard run.
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