The Analy football team, usually an explosive outfit, was shut out in the second half of its second-round North Coast Coast Division 3 playoff game at Santa Rosa High School. And yet the Tigers prevailed over visiting El Cerrito, 38-22, on Friday night.
That’s how stout the Analy defense was. And that’s how unstoppable the offense was in the first half.
Quarterback Jack Newman passed for 417 yards and six touchdowns before halftime, with four of those scores going to junior wide receiver Ross Simmons. The onslaught allowed the Tigers to build a 38-16 lead, and that turned out to be more than enough.
Still, things got a little nervous for No. 2 seed Analy down the stretch, demonstrating that the Sebastopol team has much to sort out if it wants to make a serious run at the D3 championship.
“The third round is a different level of football,” senior middle linebacker Isaac Kangas told his teammates after the game. “We’ve got to practice all week. We can’t get stopped.”
Amazingly, the Tigers did eventually get stopped by El Cerrito. Or maybe they stopped themselves.
Analy had four possessions in the second half, not counting a final go in victory formation, and all of them either started or moved within the Gauchos’ 25-yard line.
And yet the Tigers couldn’t score, thanks largely to their own penalties. They committed 10 infractions on offense, six in the second half. Those third- and fourth-quarter possessions included snaps on third-and-13, third-and-31, third-and-26, and third-and-19. Even the high-flying Tigers couldn’t convert those long odds.
No. 7 El Cerrito was rejuvenated when quarterback Devoreah Allen and wide receiver Damon Cole connected on a 49-yard touchdown pass with 4:47 left in the third quarter. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the score at 38-22.
Plenty of time for a comeback, except the Analy defense wouldn’t budge.
The Gauchos had the ball three times in the final quarter. The first drive ended with an interception by Analy’s Nick Savage. The second died when defensive end Jordan Parks dumped Allen on fourth-and-13. And El Cerrito’s last gasp expired when linebacker Matthew Picavage made a solid tackle on a fourth-down reception.
The first half belonged to the Analy offense.
The game was 35 seconds old when Newman and Simmons connected for the first time. It was a 14-yard touchdown pass, and it was set up by Schuyler Van Weele’s 34-yard reception.
El Cerrito answered, though, with Darius Powe taking a screen pass 47 yards to the end zone, and with Jaylen Phelps scoring the 2-point conversion to make it 8-7.
Simmons scored again and the Tigers were up 13-8 when the game’s pivotal moment arrived.
Actually, it was a preceded by a different pivotal moment. A yard away from another touchdown, Analy coach Daniel Bourdon went for it on fourth down, and Newman was sacked.
Immediately, Allen hit Cole with a laser, and the speedy receiver turned it into an 89-yard gain. El Cerrito had huge momentum, but it swung again. On first-and-goal from the 3, Powe reached for the goal line and Parks swatted the football loose seemingly inches short of the mark. The ball bounced around — Analy’s Dante Carrasco missed it, then an El Cerrito lineman missed it, and finally Carrasco recovered in the end zone for a touchback.