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Thunder to host Nevada Union on Friday

Rocklin tops Oak Ridge 40-32 in season opener
By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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Rocklin High senior running back Jackson Cummings was pleased with his team’s sea-son-opening victory at Oak Ridge, but his thoughts quickly changed to Friday night’s game against visiting Nevada Union. “It’s great to get this first win,” said Cummings about beating the Trojans 40-32 “I can’t wait for Nevada Union. Everyone sees that they are (ranked high this season).” Rocklin will battle Nevada Union in its home opener at 7:30 p.m. as it attempts to go 2-0. The Miners beat the visiting Thunder 35-28 in Grass Valley last season but Cummings ran for four touchdowns and 224 yards in that game. Nevada Union beat Ponderosa 42-7 in Friday’s season opener. “They will be a great test,” Rocklin coach Greg Benzel said. “We will have to play much better than we did (Friday night).” Thunder quarterback Jimmy Laughrea, who started as a sophomore last season, com-pleted 12-of-22 passes for 247 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the vic-tory over Oak Ridge. He also rushed for 55 yards on four carries and was not sacked. His top targets were seniors Holden Huff (four catches for 103 yards, two touchdowns) and Kyle Garvella (three for 110 and one touchdown). “It’s way different this year,” Laughrea said. “Not all the nervousness and I’m comfort-able out there.” Cummings also had a big game for Rocklin, rushing for a touchdown in each half and finishing with 119 yards on 17 carries. He rushed 12 times for 102 yards in the second half. Benzel was pleased that the Thunder started the season out with a victory. “Oak Ridge came to play and our guys responded in the second half. We were up but I thought that they controlled the first half,” Benzel said. “In the second half we were more ball controlled . . . but we have to get better at controlling all four quarters. “The fact that they came out and performed is huge and it’s always good to get that first win.” Rocklin scored on its first possession when Cummings ran in a two-yard touchdown with 6:06 left in the first quarter. The extra point was blocked. Laughrea had the big play on the drive when he scrambled 37 yards to put his squad at the Trojans’ 12-yard-line. Oak Ridge went up 7-6 midway through the second quarter (one-yard run by quarterback Conner Benander) but Rocklin struck back in a big way 21 seconds later as Laughrea connected with Garvella on a 65-yard touchdown pass. Senior Scott Polaske caught the 2-point conversion to make it 14-7. The Trojans tied the score at 14 with 3:44 left in the half when Jordan Matanane scored on a 12-yard run. Rocklin took the lead back less then two minutes later as Laughrea threw a bomb to Huff for a 78-yard touchdown. The Thunder missed the extra point. Rocklin led 20-17 at the half after an Oak Ridge field goal. The first half had no turnovers but both teams committed a turnover in the opening min-ute of the second half. Polaske picked off a pass for Rocklin after teammate Andrew McEwan took out the intended receiver just as the ball arrived. Oak Ridge’s Bobby Bra-man made an interception on the next play but the Trojans punted soon after. Laughrea’s three-yard touchdown pass to Huff put Rocklin up 26-17 midway through the third quarter and Cummings extended the lead to 33-17 with a 13-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the quarter. The latter touchdown drive was set up by a fumble that was recovered by Rocklin’s BJ Roberts near midfield. The Trojans scored early in the fourth quarter (five-yard touchdown pass to Nick Buerki) but Rocklin senior Daniel Lessard scored on a one-year plunge to put Rocklin up 40-25 with 5:41 left in the game. Lessard’s score came one play after Cummings broke several tackles on a 44-yard run. Benander ran in a three-yard touchdown to make the score 40-32 with 1:36 left but Rocklin senior Tiger Sorenson recovered the ensuing onside-kick attempt. Rocklin junior Brian MacDonald ran for a first down to allow the Thunder to kneel and run out the clock. Benander, who was sacked twice by Rocklin’s Dean Phillips, completed 14-of-22 passes for 208 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Matanane ran 24 times for 123 yards and one touchdown while teammate Vincent Barrow rushed for 82 yards on 18 carries and caught four balls for 109 yards. Oak Ridge beat Rocklin’s junior varsity 27-6.