Hillmen headed to title game

Wild fourth quarter rally lifts Placer
By: Todd Mordhorst, Journal Sports Editor
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The Placer High football team is improbably headed back to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title game. Dalton Dyer did a double-take when he heard the play call from coach Joey Montoya late in the fourth quarter. But the Placer High senior made no mistake with the first pass attempt of his varsity football career. Dyer's halfback pass to Cameron Southward on fourth and 7 set up his 3-yard touchdown run one play later. Asher Gotzmer then dashed around end with the decisive two-point conversion as the Hillmen fought past Sonora for a 15-14 victory. "I don't think I've ever run faster," said Gotzmer, who outran a pair of defenders to the corner of the end zone. "We were just fighting for another week and we weren't going to let them take it from us." Placer will face undefeated Modesto Christian next Friday in Stockton in the Division IV title game. The Crusaders beat Central Catholic Friday. Placer won its first two playoff games in decisive fashion. Sonora proved a worthy foe from the opening kickoff. The Wildcats hogged the ball, running 68 offensive plays in the game. The Hillmen ran 40. The Wildcats were in good shape after a punishing 85-yard drive that drained nearly eight minutes off the clock. Brendon Kamler came down with a deflected pass in the end zone and Ryan Emeral booted the extra point to give the visitors a 14-7 lead with 7 minutes, 20 seconds left in the game. The Sonora defense stalled Placer's ensuing drive at midfield, but Montoya went to his bag of tricks on fourth and 7. Dyer took a handoff and sped to the right, pulling up and throwing a spiral to a wide-open Southward, who hauled the pass in for a 44-yard gain. "I can't believe he called that," Dyer said. "I'm so happy right now I can't even talk." The Wildcats had two more shots at a go-ahead score. They drove into Placer territory, but Placer's Aaron Maddox broke up Emerald's fourth down pass. After the Hillmen went three-and-out, Sonora had one last chance. But Jarrad Weaver ambushed Emerald, knocking the ball out of his hands and recovering the fumble to ice the victory. "When you're in there and you know you've got your brothers behind you, I just love it," Weaver said. Southward put Placer in front midway through the second quarter, taking a slant pass from Collin Burnett 17 yards for a touchdown. Sonora answered immediately to tie the score just before halftime.