The American Canyon High School football team’s rushing attack overpowered Montgomery High School late in the Wolves’ 43-29 playoff win Saturday night in Santa Rosa.
The first-round North Coast Section Division 2 game was held at Santa Rosa High School due to a decision last week that Montgomery’s field was unsafe.
The Wolves and Vikings came into the game closely matched as the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds in the division, respectively, and even though American Canyon is technically the higher seed, the Vikings earned home-field advantage by winning the North Bay League-Redwood Division.
Dual-threat quarterback Khameron Perkins has utilized his talented receivers and his skills in the run game to lead Montgomery (8-2 overall, 4-0 NBL-Redwood) into the playoffs in his senior year.
American Canyon (5-5 overall, 5-1 Vine Valley Athletic League), unlike the Vikings, has solely relied on the run game this season, averaging 260.8 yards in the regular season and less than 50 passing yards each game.
Running back Eddie Byrdsong has led the Wolves with 1043 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground this season, followed by quarterback Vance Eschenburg with 626 yards.
The first half consisted mostly of a defensive battle between the teams, with each only scoring one touchdown. The Vikings scored on a 68-yard touchdown pass to Kaih Johnson and the Wolves answered with a long drive culminating in a 10-yard run from quarterback Eschenburg to tie the game 7-7.
The only other points came when American Canyon fumbled late in the half and the ball ended up in the Wolves’ end zone. They were able to recover it, taking the safety and avoiding the touchdown.
After the defensive clash in the first half, Montgomery opened the game up in the third quarter, striking quickly and scoring on a 4-yard pass to BJ Johnson to extend their lead to 16-7.
The Vikings’ quick score did not discourage the Wolves, as they stuck to their guns and continued to run the ball, driving down the field as Byrdsong ripped off big gains and Eschenburg finished off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.
“We knew they were a really physical team, we knew their running back was going to be hard to stop,” Montgomery head coach Vertis Patton said.
“Losing our middle linebacker, Matt Carr, last week was big for us, but we still thought we would be able to slow them down and stop them and put points on the board,” Patton added.
American Canyon’s nonstop rushing attack clearly wore down the Vikings’ defense and early in the fourth quarter, Byrdsong drove down the field again and capped off the drive with a short 2-yard touchdown run, giving his team a 21-16 lead.
Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Montgomery’s CJ Love returned the ball 90 yards for a touchdown to take back the lead at 22-21.
Byrdsong answered with two more touchdowns, one on a 60-yard rushing score and the other from 11 yards out. A successful 2-point conversion gave the Wolves a 36-22 lead.
Down big, the Vikings’ coaches decided to insert Joey Thresh at quarterback and move Perkins back to running back.