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Granite Bay steps up in fourth quarter to defeat Rocklin

Two-touchdown surge gives Grizzlies 35-13 win
By: Nick Hunte Gold Country News Service
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The Granite Bay Grizzlies football team defeated the Rocklin Thunder 35-13 after surging in the second half at Granite Bay High School, Friday. There was defense from both teams during the first half with the score just 7-7 at halftime, and both touchdowns did not come until the second quarter. During the second half however, Granite Bay outscored Rocklin 28-6. Senior halfback Arik Bird had two touchdowns for the game, including the first, which was a 9-yard run. The second came on a 28-yard run in the third quarter. Rocklin’s cut the lead to eight points toward the end of the game. Thunder senior quarterback Austin Tautu ran in for a touchdown from the 5-yard line with 8:16 left in the fourth quarter. However, Granite Bay would pull away with two more touchdowns in the quarter to secure its win. Granite Bay Senior tight end Spencer Briare scored a 27-yard touchdown run with 3:17 left on the clock, and junior halfback Johnny Cooley scored a 23-yard touchdown run with 52 seconds left on the clock. The Grizzlies’ season record improved to 3-1 in the Sierra Foothill League and 7-2 overall. The Thunder stays winless in league play at 0-4, and fell to 3-6 overall. Granite Bay head coach Ernie Cooper said after the game that his team had a slow start because his players were still feeling the effects of their tough and emotional loss to league leader Del Oro (4-0, 8-1) the previous week. “It’s been a hard week for us. Our defense was great tonight, but our offense lacked emotion during the first half, and rightly so since last week was a huge game,” Cooper said. He then said that his team picked up the pace by the second half. “The character of our team came out in the second half though, and we ran the ball well. We played a little smash-mouth football and we thought that it might not be pretty, but it was effective and we needed a win tonight,” Cooper said. Rocklin head coach Greg Benzel credited both his team for playing tough throughout the game, and Granite Bay’s performance. “Our guys played hard for 48 minutes of the game and Granite Bay made some big plays to make the score a little bit more lopsided, but I think everybody in this place knows that our guys played hard tonight and everything Granite Bay got tonight they earned,” Benzel said. Rocklin senior running back Brandon Crotts injured his ankle late in the second quarter, and later returned to the game in the third quarter. But he then injured his knee late in the fourth quarter. Benzel gave credit to Crotts for being tough and playing through his injuries. “He one of those guys who just keeps going,” Benzel said. “He fights and fights and he’s got a warrior’s heart, so he battles for sure.” Both teams have one more game for the season with Rocklin hosting Nevada Union (2-2, 6-3), and Granite Bay traveling to Roseville (2-2, 5-4). Both games are Nov. 4. Cooper said that a win against Roseville to close out the season would be huge for his team and hopes what his team learned from the loss to Del Oro, and the win against Rocklin, would help build momentum going against Roseville. “Our games against Roseville are always hard fought, and I am glad we won tonight because we needed to get the Del Oro loss out of our system,” Cooper said. “All that’s on our mind is playing a good game next week, and we’ve got to build on what we did against Del Oro, and we got to build on what we did tonight, that’s what we need to do.”