Two pick sixes lift Granite Bay over Rocklin in double OTBy: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
ROCKLIN — Ernie Cooper, the exhaustion genuine in his voice, said softly, “I’m done.”
Rocklin head coach Greg Benzel, with a combination of disappointment and strength in his voice, vowed his Thunder will roar again.
Granite Bay High School defeated Rocklin 41-34 in double overtime Friday night in another three-hour marathon that saw momentum and frustration swings throughout a Sierra Foothill League slugfest that left the Grizzlies (4-3 overall, 2-0 SFL) tied for first with Del Oro and the Thunder (3-4, 1-1) angry for next week.
“It was an interesting night,” Benzel said. “We had the game won.”
Yes, on a night that saw Rocklin junior Logan Webb complete 23 of 39 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns, three Thunder receivers record 100-yard games, the Grizzlies’ defense hold Rocklin to 30 yards rushing and running back Johnny Cooley chug for 114 yards in 27 carries, being yanked at smacked every step of the way, it was two interception returns for a touchdown by Granite Bay that made the difference.
Luke Bussey had a 47-yard interception return for a touchdown, and Aaron Knapp stepped in front of a pass and returned it 62 yards for a score.
“You should never lose when you have two defensive touchdowns,” Cooper said.
Said Benzel, “We live and die by throwing because that’s where our strengths are.”
Granite Bay took a 27-14 lead in the fourth period on a two-yard run by Cooley, but the extra point was blocked. Rocklin came back with Webb touchdown passes of 29 yards to Dominic Giampaoli and 12 yards to Cory Burmester. Only Grant Mook’s last PAT try was wide right, leaving the score tied at 27.
Rocklin had a chance to win in the final minute of regulation, but Mook’s 29-yard field-goal attempt again was wide right. Mook made the kick moments earlier, but officials called Rocklin for having 12 men on the field.
Each team scored a touchdown in the first overtime, Granite Bay's coming on a pass from Grant Caraway to Cooley on fourth down, and Caraway’s five-yard scramble for a score and the PAT gave Granite Bay a 41-34 lead in the second OT.
Beau Hershberger, leading a defense that recorded three sacks in the fourth quarter and OT, recovered a fumble on third and goal from the 7, and the game was over.
Cooper said he knew his defense would record a stop in the second OT.
“I wrote that down when Rocklin came out for offense,” he said. “Hats off to Rocklin. They’ve really come of age the last two games.”