By Ryan Owens, Online Sports Editor
// The Acalanes football team shook off a slow start to down Oakland 41-7 in front of an electric homecoming atmosphere Friday, Sept. 27. The game capped off a homecoming week filled with fun, excitement, and an overwhelming amount of school spirit.
The Dons defense began the game with a stop, giving the offense the ball at their own 38 yard line. A methodical drive ended in the red zone on a failed 4th down conversion.
The offense did not spend much time on the sideline though, as senior cornerback Luke Miles intercepted an Oakland pass just two plays later, giving Acalanes excellent field position. The Dons failed to find the end zone, settling for a 21 yard field goal and putting the home team up 3-0.
Oakland quickly answered, as their quarterback scampered 76 yards for a touchdown (TD) due in part to poor Acalanes tackling. That score would be the only points the Dons defense would allow.
“We fought back really well. We trust ourselves and knew that if we stuck to the game plan, we’d be just fine,” Miles said.
Looking to regain the lead, Acalanes took to the air for some offensive rhythm. Unfortunately, junior quarterback Brady Huchingson’s pass to senior wide receiver Lucas Eppinger was tipped around and fell into an Oakland defenders hands. Despite the early offensive struggles, the Dons never doubted their ability.
“We practice our plays a lot and believe in our offensive scheme to where we don’t panic if things don’t go right. We all trusted each other to get going,” senior wide receiver Ryan Reilly said.
After the interception, the defensive unit picked up their offense, with junior Niko Cortessis getting a huge sack on fourth down. The Dons trailed 7-3 after one quarter.
Junior running back Nic Rossi ran four yards for the first Acalanes TD early in the second quarter to take a lead they would not relinquish. After a blocked punt, senior running back Jake Delaney extended the Dons lead to 10 with a short rushing TD.
Acalanes blew the game open on their next offensive possession. Huchingson threw a 62 yard bomb to senior Nick Pearson down the sideline, making the score 24-7. Junior Hunter Ridley added a 28 yard field goal just before the half.
The Dons wasted no time putting the contest out of reach in the second half. On their first drive, the passing attack was in full force, with Huchingson connecting with Eppinger for a 28 yard TD.
Luke Miles added his second takeaway of the evening after he scooped up a fumble forced by junior Joey Carillo. The turnover led to another Huchingson to Eppinger TD hookup, completing the scoring for the Dons and giving them a 41-7 lead.
A sudden power outage around Lafayette after the third quarter led to the game being called early.
Huchingson was uber-efficient, completing 15 of 21 passes for 276 yards and three TDs. Eppinger had another fantastic game, hauling in four receptions for 129 yards and two TDs. The defense lived in the Oakland backfield, tallying six sacks and 12 tackles for loss.
Acalanes improves to 5-1, and gets a well deserved bye week before opening up Diablo Foothill Athletic League (DFAL) play at Las Lomas Oct. 11. Starting fast will be key to beating a red-hot Knights squad.
“This bye week we really need to focus in on our execution so we can come out the gates with a fast start and not start the first quarter against Las Lomas slow,” Reilly said.
Home Sweet Home
Acalanes has won their last four homecoming games, including a thrilling victory over Campolindo in 2017. The Dons are 3-0 at home this year.
Around the DFAL
Two of the Dons four formidable league opponents played their final non-league game this past week. Las Lomas needed a hail mary to escape at Vanden 21-20. Campolindo powered their way past Rancho Cotate in their own homecoming game. Both Alhambra and Miramonte had bye weeks.
The school in Moraga is lining up to be Acalanes’ toughest league opponent. The Dons host the Cougars Oct. 18.
“Campo will be the toughest team in league. They can do it all on the field and have great coaching,” Miles said.