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Antelope holds off a Rocklin comeback for a 31-24 playoff victory

Time runs out on Thunder
By: Joshua Gutierrez/Placer Herald
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ANTELOPE _ Despite overcoming a 21-point deficit Friday night, the Rocklin Thunder could not keep the Antelope Titans off the board and fell 31-24 in the first round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs.

The road loss to the Capital Athletic League champion Titans was especially tough, considering the Thunder had an opportunity to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Logan Webb bounced back after a couple of tough breaks to begin the game. Webb's play was crucial in pioneering 24-unanswered points and giving Rocklin its first lead of the night.

The coaches gave the offensive reigns to Webb, whose performance was highlighted by a second-half resurgence. He was 10-for-17 with a touchdown pass and one interception.

But the Thunder was unable to score for the remainder of the game. A 2-yard touchdown by running back Titus Vinson returned the lead to the Titans.

In danger of going down by two scores on the Titans’ next possession with four minutes left in the contest, the Thunder defense stiffened and held Antelope to a field goal. The Thunder needed only a touchdown and extra point to send the game into overtime.

The Thunder moved into Titans’ territory with less than a minute in the game and no timeouts. But the final two plays proved a testament to Antelopes' defensive play.

After a sack, the Rocklin offense rushed to the line. In haste, Webb rolled out to his right with a receiver in one-on-one coverage. Unfortunately the defender got underneath the ball and in effect ended the game.

Rocklin came into the Division II playoffs as the 13th seed and faced an uphill climb against an 8-2 Antelope squad.

Despite the seeding, Rocklin Head Coach Greg Benzel spoke admiringly about his crew's performance.

"We have a strong group of guys, very unified," said the coach. "We were just a little out of sync tonight."

The team exited the visiting locker room, some exited for the final time. The true emotions shown by the Thunder were a clear indicator of the passion instilled by the coaching staff.

"Our kids showed a lot of heart," said Benzel, reflecting on the season. "They put themselves in position to win. We just came up a little short."