Rocklin defense scores in victory over Del Campo

By: John Parker/Gold Country News Service
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Rocklin High School’s defense needed a pick-me-up following a disappointing performance against rival Whitney last week in the Quarry Bowl, and did the Thunder ever get it Friday night.

In a 21-7 win over Del Campo that wasn’t as close as the score would indicate, Rocklin held the Cougars scoreless for 46 minutes, 56 seconds, and the defense had a score of its own.

“The defense was the story,” Rocklin head coach Greg Benzel said. “That was a great response by them.”

Leading 6-0, the Thunder (2-2) caught two breaks just before halftime that gave it a 14-0 edge.

Del Campo (2-2) was called for holding on a punt from its 36-yard line and forced to kick again with just under three minutes remaining. The snap went over Cougar punter Moses Valcareel and died at the 2. Valcareel alertly booted the ball out of the end zone for a safety rather than give up what could have been six easy points with 2:13 left in the half.

Del Campo forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession. As the Cougars drove into Thunder territory, they went for it on fourth and nine from the Rocklin 29, but the shotgun snap sailed over sophomore quarterback Preston Semkiw and was scooped up by Thunder senior linebacker Zack Moreland.

As Moreland rumbled toward the goal line, he was caught from behind and fumbled on the 4, only to have it scooped by Thunder senior defensive back Matt Garrison, who took it in for a touchdown.

“We’ve seen that on occasion already this year. When the offense is struggling, the defense steps up,” Benzel said. “This time, they took one in.”

Penalties held back the Thunder more than the Cougars did in the first quarter, as Rocklin committed five infractions for 44 yards in the stanza. Senior running back Brandon Crotts’ 75-yard touchdown rumble, in which he slipped two tackles before reaching the line of scrimmage, put Rocklin on the board.

“A guy grabbed hold of my arm, but I got away,” Crotts said. “Then I turned the corner, saw a huge hole and ran my hardest.”

Rocklin entered averaging just more than 80 yards per game on the ground — compared to more than 220 in the air — but eclipsed that mark in the first quarter alone. Crotts carried the ball 16 times for 120 yards, and junior Raymon Kendall had 113 yards in 12 carries. Junior quarterback Daniel Kniffin completed 4 of 14 passes for 38 yards without his favorite target, senior receiver Matt Laughrea, who was off the field for much of the game. Laughrea rolled his ankle in the first quarter and didn’t catch a pass.

Del Campo spoiled excellent field position for much of the night, as it had seven drives start on its 40 or closer to the end zone, only to come away with points only once — on Ryan Doyle’s nine-yard touchdown catch with 1:04 left.

Rocklin 21, Del Campo 7

Del Campo   0   0   0   7 —   7
Rocklin        6   8   7   0 — 21

Rock — Crotts 75 run (kick failed)
Rock — Safety, snap out of end zone
Rock — Garrison 4 fumble return (kick failed)
Rock — Kendall 31 run (Giampaoli kick)
DC — Doyle 9 pass from Purcell (Valcareel kick)


RUSHING — Del Campo, A. Rodigo 20-97, Semkiw 5-11, Milan 3-8, Garcia 2-3, Newman 2-3, Blumgold 2-minus 2, Purcell 1-minus 5. Rocklin, Crotts 16-120, Kendall 12-113, Gardner 6-29, Tautu 3-minus 3, Kniffin 2-minus 9.
PASSING — Del Campo, Purcell 4-12-0, 137; Semkiw 2-9-0, 3. Rocklin, Kniffin 4-14-0, 38.
RECEIVING — Del Campo, Doyle 2-39, Voge 1-58, Blumgold 1-38, Purcell 1-4, Newman 1-minus 1. Rocklin, Burmester 3-17, Wittwer 1-21.