PETALUMA – The Egg-On-Your-Face-Bowl reverted back Saturday to its much preferred and much beloved initial template: The Egg Bowl. We knew this to be true by what happened with eight minutes left in the second quarter.
Petaluma running back Jacob Rollstin ran for 3 yards to the Casa Grande 23. As yardage accomplished, it was marginal. What followed, however, was not inconsequential. Seeking to get up from the dog pile, Rollstin took the first hand offered to him. It was from Casa’s Kenny Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald pulled Rollstin to his feet.
This city waited six years for that.
That’s a long time to hold your breath.
Felt like hands reaching across the ocean, actually. Yes, the gap once appeared to be so oceanic. The Egg Bowl was a street brawl in 2011. The city was embarrassed. It should have been. Nineteen penalties were called, nine of then personal fouls. A player was ejected. Racial epithets were hurled. The Egg Bowl was kicked to the curb. Could Petaluma and Casa Grande ever co-exist on a football field again?
They can and Saturday they did. True, it wasn’t perfect. One personal foul was called when a Casa player body slammed a Petaluma player to the ground in the fourth quarter. The Casa player immediately apologized. Order didn’t need to be restored. No one lost his mind. Eight other total penalties, all of them of the innocuous variety. Jumping offsides. Stuff like that.
Notice how I still haven’t mentioned the score of the 38th Egg Bowl. Usually that would be a tragic error of omission. In this case, however, the score amplifies the larger point — this Egg Bowl didn’t devolve into a street fight even when the game itself provided more than enough emotion for its combatants to lose their marbles.
Frustration, luck, anxiety and sudden shifts in momentum made whoever watched it or played in it uneasy. Consider, for example, how Casa scored the touchdown in the third quarter that tied the game. Casa had a fourth and 16 on Petaluma’s 36. As a high percentage play, to make a first down, better you try the lottery.
Casa quarterback Jance Offerman threw it down the Petaluma sideline. Casa wide receiver Isaiah Cappelen was right there, on stride, ready. Petaluma free safety Trey Davis was right there to knock it down.
Except Davis knocked it up and behind him. Cappelen was still in stride. The deflection sailed right to him. Cappelen had a halter step, just to make sure he had possession, and then sprinted down the sideline untouched for the touchdown. With 5:32 left in the third quarter, the game was tied at 14.
Yes, absolutely, that could have tweaked the blood pressure of Petaluma.
Then again, Casa might have become a little cranky in the fourth quarter when it was driving to tie the score. The Gauchos had a second and seven at the Petaluma 21.
“They had been running that slant (pass) play all game long,” said Rollstin, now a defensive back.
“So I planted myself between the quarterback and the receiver.”
Poaching they call it. Interception they saw it. Rollstin caught it. The drive that looked inevitable to the end zone ended. The groan from the Casa sideline was louder than any of their cheers.
On its very first play of the game, Casa lost a fumble. In the second quarter, already leading 14-7, looking to control the game, Petaluma was on the Casa 14 when it lost a fumble.
Oh yes, one other play. On the Petaluma 16, with less than a minute left in the game, Offerman tried three end zone passes which would have tied the game at 20. All three went long. Petaluma just sat on the ball with 43.3 seconds left and win, 20-14.
In other words, folks, there were a lot of logs on the fire in this Egg Bowl. Plenty of heat to inflame. Plenty of reason to strike out, the game was that close, that frustrating. Players and coaches from both teams will spend the rest of this weekend moaning to themselves “if-a, could-a, should-a.” That’s to be expected.
This is to be hoped: “Every one of my kids played their hearts out. We played a hell of a game. I’m so proud of them.” So said Casa coach Denis Brunk.
“Casa’s a good football team and they’re going to get better.” So said Petaluma coach Rick Krist.
After the game the players and coaches filed past each other to shake hands. It was the civil exchange we have come to expect, even one we took for granted. For that’s how we look at Petaluma, don’t we? A civilized place. A respectful place. We know how to get along, don’t we? And we did. Until 2011.
Saturday brought us back together. Can we stay that way? As long as we remember. Not the score. The score didn’t really matter.
Remember this: With three minutes left in the second quarter, Casa’s Offerman ran for six yards on a dive play. As Offerman sprang to his feet Petaluma’s Riley Whisman tapped him a couple times on his shoulder pads.
It was one of those atta-boy taps. Good job, bud. And so, at least for now, we can say the same thing about the new and improved Egg Bowl. Atta-boy, bud.
To contact Bob Padecky email him at email@example.com.