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Timberwolves top Thunder 14-13 in SFL opener

By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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The Sierra Foothill League opener was crazy, with twists and turns to the very end. However, when it was all over, it was Woodcreek High earning a 14-13 victory over visiting Rocklin Friday night. Rocklin sophomore quarterback Jimmy Laughrea threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to a jumping Sky Mills with 1:51 remaining in the game to make the score 14-13. Laughrea, who said he considered throwing the ball away, was sprinting away from pressure to his left when he spotted Mills in the end zone. Rocklin went for the 2-point conversion and Laughrea’s pass fell incomplete. “We really like our 2-point play and we’ve had success on it,” Rocklin coach Greg Benzel said. “And this time a guy got his hands up (to deflect the pass). We had the look and he (Scott Polaske) was open.” Rocklin held Woodcreek to a 3-and-out after its touchdown, calling a timeout after each play. Then Thunder junior Holden Huff, a punt-blocking machine, blocked Woodcreek’s punt attempt and the ball floated into the arms of teammate Chris Clowdus. Clowdus returned the ball to the Woodcreek 26-yard-line and there was 1:11 remaining in the game. Rocklin advanced the ball to the Woodcreek 19 but junior Jackson Cummings’ 36-yard field goal just missed left with 44 seconds left. Woodcreek was then able to kill the clock by kneeling on the ball. Cummings is Rocklin’s usual starting kicker but he hasn’t been kicking in games lately because he is recovering from a groin injury. Ben Holland has been doing the kicking for Rocklin. Holland kicked an extra point against Woodcreek and had a field goal blocked in the first half. “Jackson’s our money guy and you put the ball in his hands even if he’s not 100 percent,” Benzel said. “Ben probably could have kicked it to but we wanted to give Jackson the opportunity.” Cummings, also a starter at running back and safety, played just one play against Napa a week earlier but he was back in on offense against Woodcreek. He didn’t play at all on defense. He finished with 14 rushes for 53 yards and he caught one pass for five yards. “He’s moving in the right direction,” Benzel said. “We felt like it was risky to play him but it was worth the risk. You can see he’s not 100 percent.” Huff has now blocked four-and-a-half punts in the last three games. “He’s been able to get off the ball on the outside,” Benzel said. “He has a quick first step and a long body – he’s a pretty big obstacle (to block).” Woodcreek junior James Nunley ran for touchdowns in the first (seven yards) and the fourth quarters (37 yards) and finished with 129 yards rushing on 27 carries. He ran 17 times for 106 yards in the second half. Woodcreek led 7-0 at the half with both teams missing a field goal, Rocklin getting a kick blocked and Woodcreek’s Murphy missing from 32 yards just before the half. The Thunder made the score 7-7 when Laughrea threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Huff midway through the third quarter. Nunley’s second touchdown run came with 9:30 remaining in the game. Laughrea finished 16-of-31 passing for 178 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. He also caught a 31-yard pass from Garth Keffer on a trick play in the fourth quarter. His top targets were Polaske (four catches, 32 yards), Mills (two for 43), Sean Moore (three for 22) and Huff (three for 53). Laughrea started the season as the junior varsity quarterback but he was called up to the varsity when starting quarterback Tiger Sorenson was injured (left shoulder) at Nevada Union Sept. 19. “It’s (varsity) bigger and faster obviously but the line and all the guys have really helped me out,” Laughrea said. “I think we’ll bounce back and we should be good next week (against Granite Bay).” Sorenson is now recovered and has been cleared to play. “At this point Tiger is 100 percent and he deserves a look but we also feel that Jimmy has earned the spot,” Benzel said. Woodcreek used two senior quarterbacks and both Xavier Ellis (86 yards) and Tommy Murphy (47 yards) completed 3-of-8 passes, although Murphy threw an interception. “It’s an opportunity for us to get our first league win and we fell short tonight,” Benzel said. “We just have to be focused and ready for our next opponent.” Junior Varsity Woodcreek 27, Rocklin 8 Rocklin’s Charles Torretta threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Cameron McBeth with about four minutes remaining for the Thunder’s touchdown.