SACRAMENTO — For most of the first half in Saturday’s CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title game at Sacramento State, the Oak Ridge running game and Folsom’s passing game battled like rams.
Trojan running back Josh Wellman, behind his offensive line, found holes to move the chains while Bulldog quarterback Jake Browning led his team with his arm.
“We started off OK,” Oak Ridge head coach Eric Cavaliere said.
But in the second half, Browning continued where he left off in the first and the Folsom defense shut down Oak Ridge’s offense for the 49-17 victory.
Oak Ridge (12-2), seeded No. 3, struck first thanks to Drew Lackowski’s first-quarter interception in the end zone. Wellman capped an 80-yard, 10-play drive that included passes from Ian Book (13-of-17, 134 yards) to receivers Jacob Sipes and Justin Priest (3 receptions for 67 yards) with a 2-yard run with 4:30 left. Adam Walter booted the extra-point to give the Trojans a 7-0 lead.
“We got the turnover early, which was a good one,” Cavaliere said. “That gave us momentum.”
Priest added, “Our offense came out hot. Our defense played well.”
Oak Ridge’s defense held Browning to only 34 yards in the first quarter. In the first half, Browning spent most of the time scrambling out of the pocket.
“We had him scrambling around,” Cavaliere said. “We had a good scheme against him.”
But Folsom (14-0), the No. 1 seed, found a way into the end zone when Browning hit wide receiver Troy Knox on a 23-yard pass with 2:14 left in the opening quarter. Ben Trumm booted the extra-point to tie the game at 7-all.
“We had some communication issues on the field that led to some coverage mishaps,” Cavaliere said. “Eventually, we were able to get everybody on the right page.”
After Oak Ridge went three and out on its following offensive drive, Folsom took a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter when Browning found Cole Thompson in the end zone on a 57-yard strike.
The Trojans didn’t let that faze them. On its next offensive drive, Oak Ridge, behind Book’s passes to Thomas Mahlman of 9 and 16 yards, moved the ball downfield with Wellman (14 carries, 62 yards) scoring on a 3-yard sweep with 8:32 left in the quarter. The extra-point tied the game again at 14-all.
Browning gave his Bulldogs a 21-14 lead with 5:14 left in the quarter with his feet on a 1-yard keeper.
The last three minutes were exciting. Folsom was unable to reap the results of intercepting Book; Austin Clarke’s fumble recovery led to Walter’s 36-yard field; Browning scored an another 1-yard run with 42 second left for a 28-17 halftime lead.
“The kids just battled hard all the way through the first half,” Cavaliere said.
In the second half, it was all Folsom as Browning connected with Knox for three more touchdowns.
Overall, Browning completed 25-of-31 passes for 326 yards as the Bulldogs finished with 435 total offensive yards.
Oak Ridge’s offense was held to 79 total offensive yards in the second half. The Trojans had 240 total.