By Gareth Kwok, Managing Editor-in-Chief
// In one of the most anticipated matchups of the North Coast Section (NCS) Division III playoffs between #5 seeded Acalanes (9-1) and #4 seeded Bishop O’Dowd (8-2), the Dons fell short as the Dragons took home the win 36-21 in the NCS quarterfinals, eliminating the Dons from the postseason.
The Dons offense got going early thanks to a 41-yard catch & run touchdown from senior quarterback Robby Rowell to senior wide receiver Aidan McNamara. McNamara broke a tackle after making the catch and sprinted the last 15-20 yards into the end zone for a 7-0 Dons lead with 9:15 in the 1st Quarter.
After forcing a punt, the Dons took possession inside their own ten-yard line and the Dragons used the Dons’ poor field position to their advantage. During that series, Rowell attempted to evade pressure by running to his throwing arm direction while in his own end zone and throwing the ball out of the bounds. However, the officials determined that Rowell intentionally grounded the ball and because the penalty occurred in his own end zone, the play resulted in a 2 point safety for Bishop O’Dowd, making the score 7-2 Dons.
O’Dowd capitalized after receiving the punt after the safety as their quarterback Quinn Brinnon scampered into the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown run, making it 9-7 O’Dowd at the end of the 1st quarter.
The Acalanes offense endured setbacks for the rest of the 1st half as Rowell continued to feel pressure, take hits and also get sacked, leading to three and outs for the Dons. Brinnon sneaked into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown run with 4:24 left in the 2nd quarter to extend the lead, 16-7 O’Dowd. O’Dowd’s wide receiver Jevon Holland scored another Dragons touchdown on blown coverage by the Dons for a 35-yard score. At the half, Dragons lead 22-7.
The 3rd quarter started off rough for Acalanes as the defense allowed another passing touchdown and on Acalanes’ first drive of the 2nd half, the Dons fumbled and O’Dowd picked up the loose ball and took it the distance from eight yards away to further extend the lead 36-7 with 9:25 left in the 3rd.
Acalanes offense responded immediately after the fumble recovery touchdown with Rowell driving the Dons to a 1-minute 32-second drive capped off by a four-yard one-handed touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone by junior wide receiver Chris Rogers, cutting the deficit to 36-14 Dragons.
After solid defensive plays by Acalanes leading to a missed 40-yard field goal attempt by O’Dowd, Rowell found Rogers, arguably the most-targeted Dons receiver of the game, for another four-yard touchdown catch, closing the O’Dowd lead to 36-21 with 11:40 in the 4th.
Acalanes forced a turnover on downs on O’Dowd’s next possession, giving Acalanes some more momentum in the middle of the 4th quarter. However, O’Dowd’s defense answered back and sacked Rowell on 4th down in Acalanes territory with around three-four minutes left in the game, giving the Dons no time left to stage a comeback.
Acalanes ends the 2017 season with a record of 9-2.