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Del Oro squeezes into playoffs with win over Rocklin

Rand boots game-winning FG as time expires
By: By Todd Mordhorst / Special to the Journal
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LOOMIS — Brandon Monroe put on one last dazzling show at Golden Eagle Stadium, with Skyler Rand providing a thrilling finale. The encore will be held at a site to be determined after the Del Oro High football team fought its way to a playoff berth that was in doubt for much of the season.

Rand’s 33-yard field goal floated through the uprights to lift the Eagles over Rocklin 38-35, ending a classic that lived up to its branding as a Marines All American Rivalry Game.

Before Rand booted the game-winner as time expired, the Del Oro defense stifled a scary Thunder passing attack that amassed 332 yards on the night. On fourth down at the Del Oro 46-yard line with less than a minute to play quarterback Logan Webb’s pass fell incomplete, giving the Eagles a chance to win in regulation.

Tyler Meteer picked up a key first down, hauling in a 14-yard pass from Zach LaBar. The quarterback scrambled for a 15-yard gain and Monroe added another five-yard run to set up Rand from the left hash mark.

“I’ve been doing it every day in practice so it was just muscle memory,” Rand said. “I knew if we were inside the 25, maybe a little further out, I was in range. To hit it against Rocklin, especially to go to the playoffs, it means a lot."

Monroe was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after rushing for 191 yards and three touchdowns and tossing in a spectacular 60-yard interception return for a TD in the first half.

The San Jose State-bound senior was ill throughout the week, but he left Rocklin fans sick after his performance.

“Our defense struggled and Monroe got after us,” Rocklin coach Greg Benzel said.

While Del Oro clinched a spot in the postseason by virtue of its second place finish in the Sierra Foothill League, Rocklin will have to hope its resume is good enough to warrant an at-large berth—likely in the Division II playoff field.

The Thunder, like the Eagles, are certainly a daunting potential matchup for any high-seeded team in the field. Webb completed 22 of 41 passes and threw for four touchdowns. Senior Spencer Gregg caught touchdown passes of 57 and 34 yards.

But Monroe’s electric play helped Del Oro complete a 4-1 run through the SFL. The Eagles have won five of six overall.

“Monroe was on another level,” Del Oro coach Casey Taylor said. “We fought to get in to the playoffs. We’ve got a team that’s battle tested. We’ve had a lot of tough games. I’m so proud of these guys for hanging in there.”

Senior linebacker Dalton Hudec said his team has thrived under pressure this season.

“It’s normal for us to be in tight games,” Hudec said. “To have a rivalry game to go to the playoffs—that’s what it’s all about. Now we’re excited to come out and be underdogs in the playoffs.”

The Sac-Joaquin Section will release its playoff brackets Saturday evening. Visit cifsjs.org for details.