Rocklin tops first-place Roseville 26-19 in season finale

Holland's late interception seals the victory
By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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All that stood between Roseville High and a perfect Sierra Foothill League football season was Rocklin on Friday night. And it was the Thunder who prevailed 26-19 at Rocklin High in their season finale. The Thunder victory also means Roseville doesn’t have sole possession of a league title. The Tigers, who were riding a seven-game winning streak, will have to share that with Granite Bay at 4-1 in the SFL. They will play a first-round, Sac-Joaquin Section, Division II playoff game Friday. Rocklin finished the season 4-6 overall and 2-3 in the SFL. On senior night it was Rocklin senior linebacker Ben Holland who stepped up at the end of the game. Roseville was down seven points and at Rocklin’s 17-yard-line with 30 seconds remaining when Holland intercepted Mike Moreno’s pass at the goal line to seal the victory in his final high-school game. “I read (Moreno’s) eyes and stayed under the third receiver,” said an emotional Holland. “It feels really good. It feels amazing. It feels kind of like when we beat Granite Bay last year when nobody expected us to win.” Rocklin coach Greg Benzel was beaming after this victory. “This was for all the seniors – they deserve more than what has taken place (this season),” Benzel said. “And our kids made a personal challenge to show that, even though we didn’t make the playoffs, that they were a playoff caliber team. We made plays when we needed to make plays and it was very fitting that Ben made that interception at the end.” Roseville coach Larry Cunha left the field very disappointed. “We needed to come in at a championship level and we didn’t play well enough and we didn’t coach well enough. It’s a team loss,” Cunha said. The score was tied 19-19 at the half and the only score of the second half came early in the fourth quarter. Rocklin sophomore quarterback Jimmy Laughrea threw a 13-yard pass to Elliot Thompson and Holland converted the extra point with 10:25 remaining in the game. A 49-yard pass from Laughrea to Holden Huff was the key play on the 73-yard drive. Laughrea finished the game 14-of-30 passing for 243 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Laughrea also caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Garth Keffer, after pitching the ball to Keffer, to tie the game at nine with nine seconds remaining in the first half. Laughrea’s other two touchdown passes both went to junior Scott Polaske. Polaske put Rocklin up 6-0 with a 31-yard touchdown catch midway through the first quarter and he tied the game at 12 with a 15-yard catch midway through the second quarter. Roseville’s first-half touchdowns came by way of an interception return, a kickoff return and a 17-yard pass from Moreno to Andrew Pangburn. Moreno was intercepted three times, twice by senior Steven Hurley and once by Holland. Rocklin senior Eric D’amico ran the ball 18 times for 63 yards to lead the rushing attack while Huff (five catches, 117 yards) and Polaske (three for 52) were the leading receivers for the Thunder. Junior Varsity Rocklin 14, Roseville 14 Rocklin’s Charles Torretta ran in a long touchdown to put the Thunder up 14-6 with 1:46 left in the game. However Roseville answered with a touchdown and 2-point conversion with 57 seconds remaining to tie the score.