FROM THE AUBURN JOURNAL
Anthony Kerrigan ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns as Placer High won the battle of two hard-nosed Wing-T football programs Friday, 42-21 over Liberty Ranch in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs.
The Hillmen (6-5) will host Center (8-3) next week for a shot at the D4 finale.
âWeâve come so far,â Placer coach Joey Montoya said. âTo start 1-4 in preseason and face the adversities that we have faced â injuries and everything else â and to be going into our second straight semifinal game, I couldnât be more ecstatic.â
Placer outmuscled Liberty Ranch (8-3) at the line of scrimmage, out-gaining the Hawks 502-245 in offensive yardage and enjoying a 42-14 lead with 10 minutes to play.
Some late sloppiness did draw the game tighter.
Deep in his own territory, Hillmen quarterback Michael Stuck made an arrant pitch into the arms of Liberty Ranch lineman Jack Lopez, who high-stepped over Stuck for a three-yard touchdown return.
Lopez (six catches, 98 yards) would land the games final touchdown 12 minutes later, but Placer deployed several of their underclassmen call-ups in the final few sets of downs and kept a three-score margin.
Placer held Liberty Ranch to 110 rushing yards, gave up only 10 completions on 19 pass attempts and managed to find the end zone against a squad that averaged just over 10 points allowed in the regular season.
âThere were some good football players on that team, especially No. 51 (Jarlath Tupito-ma’ae), that defensive lineman,â Montoya said. âHe is probably the best player we have seen all year.â
Kerrigan had the first touchdown of the game and gave Placer a 35-7 lead with his second score in the third quarter. He was one of four Hillmen running backs to run for over 70 yards. The Hillmen faithful were happy to see him at full speed after injury issues earlier this season.
âI think each week I am getting better and each week I have more adrenaline in my body,â Kerrigan said. âI get another week with my brothers and we just want to keep it going and prolong our season.â
Morgan Rein-Robinson ran for 115 yards and a touchdown on 115 carries while Devin Toste (6-74) and Mario Perez (18-73) also hit pay dirt.
Stuck was 6 of 8 for 91 yards, with a touchdown to Carter Benz, an interception and a fumble lost.
The Placer defense was led by sophomore Brad Bishop, a JV player just one week ago. Bishop had two tackles for loss in the opening half and saved a touchdown by chasing down Liberty Ranch running back Kamil Jones on the Hawksâ longest offensive play of the night (58-yard rush).
Bishop also pulled down an interception in the second half as Liberty Ranch started to build momentum.
âI came up expecting my nerves to get the better of me, but coming out the team just helped me out and we played as brothers,â Bishop said. âItâs unbelievable.
âThe guys are so welcoming.â