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Del Oro's title dream dashed in Carson

Helix’s second-quarter explosion too much to overcome as Eagles fall in state bowl game
By: Todd Mordhorst & Joyia Emard Gold Country News Service
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CARSON — Del Oro High’s historic 2011 football season ended with one last valiant effort. But Helix showcased its speed and skill in a six-minute blur in the second quarter and that was the difference in Saturday’s CIF State Division II Bowl Championship game. The Highlanders defeated the Golden Eagles 35-24 at the Home Depot Center. A quick string of three straight touchdowns in the second period left Del Oro to play catch-up the rest of the game. The Eagles trailed 28-10, but battled back. Russell Smith’s seven-yard touchdown run on their first drive of the third quarter sliced the lead to 11. Del Oro appeared to have even more momentum after Brandon Monroe’s interception on Helix’s ensuing drive. But the turnover was wiped out by a late defensive holding penalty on the Eagles. The Highlanders took advantage of the free first down, scoring their final TD on the last play of the third quarter. “It comes down to who made more mistakes. We had more mistakes,” said Del Oro coach Casey Taylor, who declined to comment on the key holding penalty. “Our boys played hard, never gave up.” The Eagles provided some excitement in the final minute of the game. Blake Covey blocked a Helix punt and Alex Bertrando scooped it up and took it in for a touchdown. Covey pounced on an onside kick moments later and the Golden Eagles had a glimmer of hope, down 11 points in the final minute. But time ran out and Del Oro’s remarkable season came to a close. The Eagles finished with a 13-2 record. “It was a once in a lifetime experience to be here with my friends,” said senior Nick O’Sullivan, who was bottled up much of the night by the Highlanders’ outstanding defensive line. “Helix is a good team. They’re very physical. They displayed good sportsmanship.” Helix (13-1) also displayed its explosive offense in the first half. Quarterback Brandon Lewis completed 10 of 14 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns. Speedster Brandon Lewis broke free for a 74-yard touchdown on a pass from Lewis to give the Highlanders a 14-10 lead. After a 3-yard TD by Michael Adkins made it 21-10, Lewis hit Kendal Keys for a 41-yard TD before halftime. Keys had a 6-yard TD catch on a pass from Lewis in the third. Tanner Huber caught a touchdown pass from Bobby Heatherington early in the second quarter. Junior Skyler Rand booted a 26-yard field goal after Del Oro recovered an onside kick on the opening kickoff. “We wanted it. We practiced hard. We just came up short,” said Heatherington, who lost just the second game of his high school career as the starting quarterback. “But it’s been a great experience being here.” The Del Oro players were cheered on by Westlake players and supporters throughout the game. Westlake defeated the Eagles in overtime at the Battle at the Capital in Loomis back in September. The Warriors lost 35-0 to De La Salle in Saturday’s CIF Open Division State Bowl Championship.