Unrelenting defenses and costly penalties led to a close 14-7 win for the Analy High School football team over El Molino on Friday night in Forestville, making it the eighth straight win for the Tigers over their rivals, the Lions.
Analy’s Nic Visser ran for one touchdown and threw for another as the two longstanding foes faced off in the 54th edition of the Golden Apple Bowl, this time in nonleague action after realignment of the North Bay League put Analy (2-3) in the Oak Division and El Molino (1-4) in the Redwood.
El Molino received the opening kickoff and with starting quarterback Jalen Hall injured the Lions turned to senior QB Wyatt Stringfellow, who spent most of the game running from the Tigers’ defensive line unable to establish any long drives.
But El Molino’s defense also held strong against what was expected to be a potent Tigers offensive attack.
“I thought we would come out firing,” said Analy head coach James Foster. “I thought there would be a little more excitement than we had because it’s a rivalry game, but we kind of came out flat and that’s why El Molino was able to stay in it the whole game.”
The Lions forced Analy’s dual-threat quarterback Visser to rely on short passes and, like Stringfellow, Visser spent most of the game running away from overpowering pass rushers.
The first successful offensive drive for either team came for Analy late in the first quarter.
A short punt by the Lions put the Tigers on El Molino’s 49-yard line. Visser quickly completed a 47-yard pass to Kolby Elledge, and the quarterback then finished off the drive with a 4-yard scramble into the end zone, giving the Tigers an early 7-0 lead.
Consecutive stalled series followed for both teams until late in the first half when Analy was able to put together another successful drive by relying again on short passes and screen plays.
On several occasions, the Tigers’ drive almost stalled, but the Lions kept committing penalties on defense to keep the ball in Analy’s hands.
With 18 seconds left in first half, Visser completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Nebozuk, and Analy went into halftime with a 14-0 lead.
In the second half, a muffed punt from Analy gave El Molino’s offense its first chance to score but the drive ended abruptly when Tigers linebacker Austin Burnham came up with an interception in the end zone.
The third quarter mirrored the first half as both teams spent it being driven back by the opposing defense. It remained Analy up 14-0 heading into the fourth quarter.
Early in the quarter, the Lions had a long drive and the Tigers this time committed several penalties themselves to keep the drive going.
“That’s all about mental discipline. A lot of it came after the whistle. That’s just a matter of being able to keep your cool in frustrating situations,” Foster said.
Stringfellow finished the series by scoring El Molino’s only points of the game on a short touchdown pass.
With minutes dwindling, the Lions started a drive on the Tigers’ 48-yard line. Stringfellow completed a 35-yard pass to put them in the red zone and the two quick snaps to running back Sam Wilson-Mietz from the wildcat formation put them on the 1-yard line.