By Noah Glosson, Staff Writer
// Competitive, rough, and highly emotional. The Acalanes football team looked for its first home win of the season against a very athletically talented El Cerrito team last Friday night. However, the Dons fell two feet shy of their third season win.
After a missed game-winning field goal, Acalanes fell in heartbreaking fashion to El Cerrito, 32-30, the Dons’ third home loss of the season.
The Dons flew out of the gates, getting off to a good start. After senior safety Scott Brydon recovered a fumble, the Dons would take over in Gaucho territory. Unable to cash in with a touchdown, Acalanes settled for a 36-yard field goal from sophomore Hunter Ridley to give the Dons a 3-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, El Cerrito’s returner would fumble the ball and junior defensive back Nick Pearson came away with it. The Dons again failed to reach the end zone, settling for a 41-yard field goal.
On the following possesion, the Guachos would be forced to punt, but a muffled snap and a great tackle by senior outside linebacker Alex Cortessis would give the Dons terrific field position once again. Junior quarterback Nick Kresnak found senior wide reciever Keaziah Smith, who took it down to the three-yard line. On the next play, Kresnak scored on a quarterback sneak to give the Dons a 13-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, El Cerrito’s returner took the ball back 88 yards for a touchdown. After a missed PAT, the Dons held a 13-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, El Cerrito scored on a five-yard quarterback sneak, but a missed PAT helped Acalanes hang on to a one-point lead. The Dons marched down the field, but Ridley’s field goal this time was just short and no good. El Cerrito took the ball back down the field on a eight play, 77-yard drive, ultimately capped off by a one-yard rushing touchdown, scoring their 26th unanswered point. The Gauchos led 26-13 at halftime.
To start the third quarter, El Cerrito’s quarterback was intercepted by junior defensive back Nick Pearson. The Dons could not get anything going on offense, going three and out and being forced to punt. On the ensuing first play from scrimmage, the Gauchos fumbled and junior defensive end Eddie Gray recovered, giving the ball back to the Dons deep in El Cerrito territory. On the first play, Kresnak found a wide open junior wide receiver Lucas Eppinger for a 15-yard touchdown, cutting their deficit to 20-26.
After forcing a three and out, the Dons marched down the field and attempted a 34 field goal. Ridley knocked it through the uprights to make it a three point game, 23-26. Later in the third, the Dons fumbled in their own territory, leading to a two-yard touchdown in the fourth to extend the Gauchos’ lead to 32-23.
The Dons got the ball back and drove down the field once more, but again left without points, as Ridley missed a 32 yard field goal wide left. El Cerrito took the ball back, and promptly received five unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, pushing the ball back to the Gauchos’ own one-yard line. The Dons defense forced a three and out.
Kresnak completed a 42-yard connection to senior wide receiver Chris Rogers. Five plays later, Kresnak found Rogers in the endzone for a five-yard score, making it a two-point game.
Acalanes would regain possession with under two minutes left, needing only a field goal to go ahead. On fourth down and ten, Kresnak’s pass was incomplete, but a defensive holding call would give Acalanes an automatic first down. Three plays later, Kresnak was picked off, only to have the interception nullified by another defensive holding call.
With eight seconds on the clock, Hunter Ridley came out with a chance to win it for the Dons with a tough 39-yard field goal. Ridley’s kick looked good in the air, but bounced off of the left upright. Acalanes lost 32-30, dropping to 2-3 on the season (0-3 at home).
“I honed where I wanted it to go and just didn’t get it,” Ridley said. Ridley was three for six on the night for field goals, and three for three on PATs.
Kresnak had another strong game, throwing for 325 yards and totaling three touchdowns. Rogers caught seven passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. Eppinger had six grabs for 77 yards and caught a touchdown as well. Smith added 136 all-purpose yards.
On defense, junior middle linebacker Tommy Thrasher generated nine tackles. Brydon added seven tackles.
The Dons will head into a bye week. On September 28th, they will head out to Concord to take on a formidable powerhouse in Clayton Valley.
“We just need to get back to practice and correct our mistakes from there,” senior guard Logan Branch said.