By Ryan Owens, Online Sports Editor
// The football team picked up an easy victory Friday night over Alhambra 56-7 on a night that was all about the Class of 2020.
The Dons were all business from the opening kickoff, with senior Carson Gragg intercepting a pass on the Bulldog’s third play from scrimmage. Though the offense was forced to punt, the defense took matters into their own hands, as senior Nick Giorgianni intercepted another pass and took it to the house, giving the Dons a 7-0 lead.
Giorgianni was starting for the first time all season, and took advantage of his opportunity.
“The goal for the defense as a whole was to get interceptions because we knew the quarterback was prone to throwing the ball into coverage,” he said.
After inducing another punt, junior quarterback Brady Huchingson found senior Lucas Eppinger on a short pass, but the senior receiver knifed through the defense for an 87 yard touchdown.
The defense added two more points to their scoring total with a safety on Alhambra’s next possession, as junior Niko Cortessis sacked the quarterback in the endzone.
A long return from Eppinger on the safety kickoff set up a 7 yard touchdown run from Huchingson, and just like that, the Dons were up 23-0.
Senior safety Jack Miles collected another interception at the end of the first quarter. Acalanes methodically drove down the field until senior receiver Ryan Reilly broke free for a 25 yard touchdown catch and run.
The shutdown defense caused yet another punt, and Huchingson threw for his third touchdown of the evening by connecting with senior Nick Pearson, who out jumped his defender and scampered 75 yards.
Senior Jack Muren tacked on another touchdown through the air from 25 yards out on Acalanes’ next drive. Alhambra answered with a touchdown right before the half, but the Dons led 43-7 at the break.
After the Dons offense scored only 34 points in their last two games combined, the 34 offensive points scored in the first half alone was a welcomed sight.
“I think this game helped us with our confidence offensively as we have struggled a little bit these last two games. It also helps the defense because they now know they don’t have to shut everyone out in order to win the game,” Eppinger said.
The Dons wasted no time to start the second half. On their first offensive play, Huchingson threw a 71 bomb to Muren for his second touchdown of the night.
Giorgianni picked off another pass early in the fourth quarter and almost ran 90 yards to the endzone. The interception led to a short rushing touchdown from junior Dane Jenssen.
A Pearson interception put the Dons in victory formation, with the scoreboard reading 56-7 in favor of Acalanes.
Huchingson needed to complete only seven passes to throw for 280 yards and five touchdowns. Cortessis sacked the opposing quarterback twice, while junior Graham Oh led the defense with nine total tackles.
Due to the tragic Kincade fire in and around Sonoma County, the North Coast Section (NCS) extended the season a week for any teams who are affected. Acalanes will not play next week, but will receive their NCS playoff seed on Sunday Nov. 10 and play their first playoff game Friday Nov. 15 at home.
Keeping a strong focus and avoiding sluggish starts will be key for the Dons in the postseason.
“I’d say one of the big keys for playoff success is maintaining a high effort level on practice and coming out in the first quarter strong,” Giorgianni said.
A Historic Evening
The Dons clinched a share of a Diablo Athletic League- Foothill (DFAL) title with the blowout win, their first since 1980. Las Lomas and school in Moraga will split the feat with Acalanes.
Seriously, It’s A No Fly Zone
The Dons defensive unit picked off Alhambra quarterbacks five times, including three in the first quarter. Acalanes has 15 interceptions this season, while Miramonte and Campolindo have only five each.
You Get a Touchdown, You Get a Touchdown, and You Get a Touchdown
The senior receiving corps of Eppinger, Muren, Pearson, and Reilly each caught a touchdown pass on senior night, an accomplishment that belongs in a movie.
“Everyone has been working so hard all year and to know our work isn’t going to waste is a great feeling,” Eppinger said.