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Rocklin opens season with 40-32 victory at Oak Ridge

By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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Rocklin High’s varsity football team opened up the season with a 40-32 victory at Oak Ridge on Friday night. Thunder quarterback Jimmy Laughrea, who started as a sophomore last season, completed 12-of-22 passes for 247 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 55 yards on four carries and was not sacked. “It’s way different this year,” Laughrea said. “Not all the nervousness and I’m comfortable out there.” Senior tailback Jackson Cummings also had a big game for Rocklin, rushing for a touchdown in each half and finishing with 119 yards on 17 carries. Cummings rushed 12 times for 102 yards in the second half. “It’s great to get this first win,” Cummings said. “I can’t wait for Nevada Union. Everyone sees that they are (ranked high this season).” Rocklin will host Nevada Union next Friday as it attempts to go 2-0. The Miners beat the visiting Thunder 35-28 in Grass Valley last season but Cummings ran for four touchdowns and 224 yards in that game. Rocklin coach Greg Benzel was pleased that the Thunder started the season out with a victory. “Oak Ridge came to play and our guys responded in the second half. We were up but I thought that they controlled the first half,” Benzel said. “In the second half we were more ball controlled . . . but we have to get better at controlling all four quarters. “The fact that they came out and performed is huge and it’s always good to get that first win.” Rocklin scored on its first possession when Cummings ran in a two-yard touchdown with 6:06 left in the first quarter. The extra point was blocked. Laughrea had the big play on the drive when he scrambled 37 yards to put his squad at the Trojans’ 12-yard-line. The score remained 6-0 Rocklin until Oak Ridge found the end zone (one-yard run by quarterback Conner Benander) with 7:55 left in the half. This put the Trojans up 7-6. Rocklin struck back in a big way 21 seconds later as Laughrea connected with Kyle Garvella on a 65-yard touchdown pass. Senior Scott Polaske caught the 2-point conversion to put Rocklin up 14-7. The Trojans tied the score at 14 with 3:44 left in the half when Jordan Matanane scored on a 12-yard run. Rocklin took the lead back less then two minutes later as Laughrea threw a bomb to Holden Huff for a 78-yard touchdown. The Thunder missed the extra point. Oak Ridge’s Robbie Beyer hit a 32-yard field goal at the end of the half to make the score 20-17 Thunder. The first half had no turnovers but both teams committed a turnover in the opening minute of the second half. Polaske picked off a pass for Rocklin after teammate Andrew McEwan took out the intended receiver just as the ball arrived. Oak Ridge’s Bobby Braman made an interception on the next play but the Trojans punted soon after. Laughrea’s three-yard touchdown pass to Huff put Rocklin up 26-17 midway through the third quarter and Cummings extended the lead to 33-17 with a 13-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the quarter. The latter touchdown drive was set up by a fumble that was recovered by Rocklin’s BJ Roberts near midfield. The Trojans scored early in the fourth quarter (five-yard touchdown pass to Nick Buerki) but Rocklin senior Daniel Lessard scored on a one-year plunge to put Rocklin up 40-25 with 5:41 left in the game. Lessard’s score came one play after Cummings broke several tackles on a 44-yard run. Benander ran in a three-yard touchdown to make the score 40-32 with 1:36 left but Rocklin senior Tiger Sorenson recovered the ensuing onside-kick attempt. Rocklin junior Brian MacDonald ran for a first down to allow the Thunder to kneel and run out the clock. Rocklin’s Huff caught four passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns while Garvella caught three balls for 110 yards and one touchdown. Rocklin junior Dean Phillips had two sacks in the game. Benander completed 14-of-22 passes for 208 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Matanane ran 24 times for 123 yards and one touchdown while teammate Vincent Barrow rushed for 82 yards on 18 carries and caught four balls for 109 yards. Nevada Union beat Rocklin’s junior varsity team 27-6.