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Del Oro stuns top seed St. Mary's

Eagles rally to bounce previously unbeaten Rams from Division II playoffs, earn semifinal clash with No. 4 Folsom
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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STOCKTON — As captains met at midfield before the third quarter, Bryce Pratt spent his final seconds of halftime pacing the sideline, challenging members of Del Oro High’s special teams. “How bad do you want to play next week?” Pratt asked. The star tailback and his teammates let their second-half play answer. Kicker Ian Scott responded with a booming touchback, the defense replied with its boldest showing of the season and quarterback Max Magleby orchestrated a game-winning drive as No. 8 Del Oro stunned top seed St. Mary’s 30-29 Friday night to advance to next week’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals against No. 4 Folsom. “I’m just so proud of the effort tonight on both sides of the ball,” head coach Casey Taylor said. “We put a good last drive together. It was a phenomenal high school football game.” Trailing 14-0 late in the second quarter, the Eagles (10-2) rallied to score the next 24 points before the Rams (11-1) answered with two touchdowns in less than three minutes, reclaiming the lead on a fake sweep trick pass with 5:01 remaining. Magleby, who completed 17 of 26 passes for a career-high 251 yards, then calmly led Del Oro on the decisive 80-yard drive. He completed short passes on four of the first five plays, marching the Eagles into St. Mary’s territory with 2:35 left. On the next play, Magleby threw a 41-yard strike to Freddie Cargile, who fumbled the ball inside the 10-yard line. Fellow wide receiver Daniel Thomas was right there to pounce on it, setting up Magleby’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Spencer Butterfield three plays later. “We’ve always been a second-half team,” said Butterfield, who had nine catches for 141 yards, both season-highs. “We knew it would come down to the last drive. We prepared for it all week and we were ready to go when it came down to it.” St. Mary’s started at its own 15 with one minute left, and Del Oro’s defense stopped the Rams on a fourth-and-one with 34.1 seconds remaining when Shoichi Martinson flipped St. Mary’s quarterback Marcus McDade on his back just shy of the 44-yard line. “I’m just shocked right now,” said Martinson, who took Derrick Luque’s spot in the secondary after Luque injured his ankle in the game’s opening minutes. “I don’t even know what to say. We wanted it bad. We had heart tonight. That’s what won us the game.” When an official measurement revealed the ball was a few inches short of the first down, Del Oro defensive coordinator Steve Birch sprinted the length of the track in front of a large Eagles crowd, his right index finger pointed skyward. “We stepped up at the right times,” Birch said. “Our guys played their butts off. It’s the best 29-point give-up we’ve ever had. Usually it’s not too good when you allow 29 points, but this is the No. 1 scoring team in the section. I can’t be more proud of our guys.” Butterfield caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Magleby with 35.2 seconds left in the second quarter to cut the Rams’ halftime lead to 14-7. The Eagles forced St. Mary’s to punt on all three of its third-quarter possessions, and Del Oro scored all three times. Despite missing a few plays after re-injuring a right ankle that has bothered him off and on all season, Pratt scored on an 8-yard touchdown run with 8:33 left in the third. Scott kicked a 40-yard field goal later in the quarter to give the Eagles their first lead, 17-14. Pratt, who carried 32 times for 152 yards, scored his second touchdown on a 1-yard scamper that put Del Oro on top 24-14 early in the fourth as the Eagles defense continued to contain the Rams’ spread shotgun. “They were doing a lot of their plays by formation so we were able to recognize some and pick up on some little things here and there,” Butterfield said. Del Oro will face Folsom, another high-powered spread offense, next Friday for a spot in the section title game. “We’ve got a lot of work left to do,” Taylor said. “We’re really happy about this win — don’t get me wrong — but our goal is to win the section title and Folsom’s going to be another huge challenge for us. We’ll enjoy this tonight, but we’ve got to get back to work next week or we’ll be sitting at home.”