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Rocklin stuns ‘bigger’ Los Banos 27-19

Tigers can’t penetrate Thunder defense
By: Jim Linsdau Placer Herald Sports Editor
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In spite of Rocklin High School head football coach Greg Benzel’s earlier concern of how his Thunder would handle the “mass” of Los Banos High, his defense turned back the Tigers’ offense in virtually every category for a 27-19 win, Friday night. “The defense did a nice job of stymieing them in the first half,” said Benzel, “and (Los Banos) started throwing the ball a little bit and made it a game.” Unofficially, the Tigers had just 12 yards rushing in the first half, and Rocklin picked off two of the visiting quarterback’s passes. Los Banos rushed for 62 total yards, and passed for 131. Rocklin’s junior quarterback Daniel Kniffin started a bit slow, but eventually connected on 14 of his 22 passes for 158 yards and three touchdowns; two of them to wide receiver Matt Laughrea. “Well, he’s brand new,” said Benzel of his quarterback’s sluggish start. “That was his first high school start, right there.” Although the transfer student hit on only four of his first 11 passes, he quickly found his stride – and Laughrea. After the Thunder settled for two short field goals by Laughrea in the early going, Kniffin struck like lightning with only 43 seconds left in the half. On third down, he found Laughrea 35-yards away in the corner of the end zone. Laughrea outfought the defender for the ball, and Rocklin’s first touchdown. “I think it was 50-50,” Laughrea said, “I think the ball was pinned between both our hands and I ripped it out and landed on my back.” Laughrea was on the receiving end of five of Kniffen’s passes for 75 total yards. Kniffin also hit Dominic Giampaoli for an 11-yard scoring strike in the third quarter. In the second half Los Banos went to the air for a little bit more success, but linebacker Spencer Davis refused to give the Tigers any rest. He twice sacked quarterback Chris Corpuz, and the secondary did any excellent job when Corpuz did get the ball off. “We had to be faster then them,” Davis said after the game, “Speed carries more impact; you get to the ball faster. Even though they could move us we could get around them and get to the ball.” The biggest stop came, perhaps, in the fourth quarter with Rocklin leading by eight. Los Banos had a fourth and one at the Thunders’ 48-yard line with enough time left to score. The Tigers gave the ball to their leading rusher, James Sams, who hit a rock wall. When the cloud of fibers cleared, Sams had come up a half-yard short. Rocklin ran out the clock after that. The Thunder trailed only once in the game, 7-6, with 4:30 left in the half. After the Kniffin to Laughrea strike Rocklin never trailed again. Raymon Kendall had 40 of the Thunders’ 47 rushing yards; they came on 14 carries. Brandon Crotts had seven yards, 48 through the air. JV _ Rocklin quarterback Logan Webb ran for touchdowns of 17 and five yards, and Dennis Jackson kicked a field goal as the Thunder defeated Los Banos, 17-7. Frosh _ Gage Sorenson scored from five yards out, John Butler from a yard out, and Jake Toto hit Kanyon Webb with a 2-yard pass as Rocklin topped the Tigers, 20-14. Rocklin 27, Los Banos 19 Los Banos 0 7 6 6 – 19 Rocklin 3 10 7 7 – 27 Scoring 1st Quarter Rok – Laughrea 9 field goal, 5:24 2nd Quarter Rok – Laughrea 15 field goal, 11:01 LB – Sams 11 run (kick failed) 4:31 Rok – Laughrea 35 pass from Kniffin (Laughrea kick) 0:43 3rd Quarter Rok – Giampaoli 11 pass from Kniffin (Laughrea kick) 8:54, LB – West 4 pass from Corpuz (kick blocked) 5:31 4th Quarter Rok – Laughrea 10 pass from Kniffin (Laughrea kick) 11:34 LB – Turner 6 pass from Corpuz (kick failed) 9:29