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Whitney wins the battle for the rock, 48-34

Wildcats wear down Thunder
By: Jim Linsdau Gold Country Media
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Rocklin High School football fans may have left the game a little disappointed Friday night after Whitney High School defeated the Thunder, 48-34, in the Second Annual Quarry Bowl, but pure football fans weren?t disappointed. The battle for football supremacy in Rocklin had everything a game could offer, including almost 900 yards of offense. Rocklin took an early lead using speed and misdirection plays to open a 7-0 lead. The Wildcats quickly retaliated when quarterback Jake Rodrigues took the ball into the end zone on a 1-yard keeper. Thunder quarterback Daniel Kniffin came back to hit Matt Laughrea with a 38-yard touchdown strike to regain the lead. Laughrea missed the point-after attempt, but Rocklin held on for a 13-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Toward the end of the half, the contest began to go Whitney?s way as the hot, muggy night air, and the Wildcats? superior size, began to take a toll on the Thunder. After holding Rodrigues to just one reception and 17 yards in the first quarter, the Oregon University-bound signal-caller began to find his game just before the half. Rodrigues opened the second quarter 4-for-4 with TD tosses to Christian Daniel of 31 and 10 yards. He also found his legs, as did the Wildcats, rushing for a team total of 102 yards in quarter two. Rodrigues again scored on a 1-yard keeper to lead Rocklin 27-20 at halftime. ?We just lost our momentum, I think,? said Rocklin defensive lineman Victor Ybarra after the game. ?Things happen like this in football games.? It appeared the Wildcats would turn out the lights on Quarry Bowl II when they came out in the third quarter and scored three-straight touchdowns. Rodrigues again hit Daniel with a scoring strike, this time for 18 yards. After the following kickoff, Rocklin went three-and-out as penalties and fatigue began to show on the Thunder. A personal foul called on the silver-and-blue put the ball on the Rocklin 18. ?They just got more tired and we just picked it up more and got intense,? said Whitney interior lineman Thaddeus Cox. ?We didn?t break down. We just kept the aggression and they were getting tired and kind of giving up a little bit.? After little gain on two running plays, Rodrigues then hit tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick with what appeared to be a first down; the chains said otherwise. Feinting a dive play to gain the first down, Rodrigues pulled up and hit Cope-Fitzpatrick with a 12-yard scoring pass. Up until that point, Cope-Fitzpatrick had been pretty quiet as a receiver. ?They were rocking me,? said Cope-Fitzpatrick during the post-game celebration. ?They were sticking a linebacker and stacking a safety on me, and putting a middle lineman on top of me.? But even that couldn?t stop the 6-foot, 5-inch, 240-pound future University of Southern California prospect. Still, refusing to quit, Rocklin got the ball back and moved to Whitney?s 3-yard line on a circus catch by Laughrea. But the drive sputtered and died when linebacker Sean O?Brien picked off a Kniffin pass in the end zone on fourth-and-three for a touchback. Using that as an inspiration, the Wildcats went 80 yards for another score capped by a 10-yard run by Daniels to give the maroon-and-gold a 48-20 lead at the end of the third period. The Thunder started to methodically work their way back into the game in the fourth quarter. Crotts went in from one yard out to close the margin to 21 with almost 11 minutes remaining. ?You always have to expect the unexpected, and (Rocklin) did a great job coming back,? said Rodrigues. ?We knew what we had to do.? Then, after Whitney turned back a would-be Rocklin scoring drive at the Wildcats? 11, the maroon-and-gold bobbled the snap on the next play and the Thunders? Jared Amader fell on it for another Rocklin touchdown. ?We came back,? Ybarra said of his club?s effort in the fourth quarter. ?I really thought we were going to win. But you know what, things happen. It was just the little things, penalties, all that.? All that and a lot of Wildcats? power. Although Rocklin recovered an onsides kick after the touchdown, linebacker Alex Ewing snuffed out the last of the Thunders? hopes by tipping a Kniffin pass and catching it for an interception. Whitney would run out the clock after that. ?It was a great game. (Rocklin) is a well-coached team, a very good team, a very physical team,? said a gracious Whitney head football coach Mike Gimenez in a rather hoarse voice following the game. ?I felt we had a great two weeks of preparation, so the kids felt great, they were confident.? Rocklin, 1-2, begins a three-game home stand starting with Del Campo, Friday. After their homecoming against Ponderosa, Sept. 23, they will have a bye week before hosting Del Oro, Oct. 7, to open Sierra Foothill League play. The Wildcats take their 2-0 record to the University of Idaho to play Coeur d? Alene High School. The host Vikings are 3-0. The trip will give the ?Cats a chance to reflect on what they?ve accomplished, and what lies ahead. Whitney High?s athletic director Mark Williams may have summed up the Quarry Bowl best. ?You know the main thing about this is it?s a community event between Rocklin and us,? he said. ?Having the partnership between the two schools, and the entire community; it?s both schools in the town of Rocklin that come out ahead.? Whitney 48, Rocklin 34 Rocklin 13 7 0 14 34 Whitney 7 20 21 0 48