Eagles break through against Elk Grove

Butterfield returns to ignite Del Oro to victory
By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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LOOMIS — Its star receiver back on the field for the first time in four weeks, Del Oro High made a major statement in its final tune-up before Sierra Foothill League play. The Golden Eagles defense stopped Elk Grove inside the 5-yard line twice in the waning seconds to hold on for a thrilling 27-22 win over the potent Thundering Herd Friday night. The defensive stance followed an impressive go-ahead drive by Del Oro (2-3), catalyzed by a 38-yard catch-and-run between quarterback Mason Magleby and wide receiver Spencer Butterfield. Butterfield caught eight passes for 173 yards in his first game since injuring his knee in the season opener at the Rocky Mountain Rumble in Pocatello, Idaho. After burning its final timeout, Elk Grove’s Bryce Harper ran the ball on a second-and-goal from just inside the 5, but was stopped short. The clock continued to run as officials spotted the ball inside the 1, and quarterback Zach Miller’s dive was also ruled to be short of the goal line as time expired and students flooded onto the field in celebration. “The officials were talking and arguing over what was going on,” said Herd head coach Chris Nixon. “I thought they should have called their own official timeout to discuss it, figure out and then say, ‘hey, here’s what we’ve got.’” Nixon said Harper and Miller both thought they crossed the goal line. “The officials did not give me an explanation,” Nixon said. “They sent me back to the sideline when I tried to go up and explain my case. They said, ‘You don’t belong on the field.’” Elk Grove (4-1) took a 22-21 lead with 6:48 remaining on a 45-yard touchdown run by Brooke Brooks after the Eagles had led 21-7 in the second quarter. Casey Cox returned the ensuing kickoff to the Herd 32-yard line where Magleby found Butterfield on the first play, sending the Del Oro crowd into a chant of “Butterfield’s Back! Butterfield’s Back!” “Him coming back helped quite a bit,” Magleby said. “He runs great routes, he catches balls and he’s a big dude. He’s a big threat out there. It changes the offense. We have more confidence, throwing the ball on third downs, even third and short.” Running back Bryce Pratt ran the next five plays, capping the drive with a short scoring scamper with 4:13 left in the game. Pratt scored all four touchdowns on runs of 2, 14, 5 and 3 yards and finished with a season-high 202 yards on 33 carries. Magleby carried nine times for 41 yards and completed 10-of-17 passes for 197 yards with one interception to follow up a strong performance in last week’s 21-14 loss at Division I powerhouse Merced. “Our team believes we played our best football last week,” Magleby said. “It says a loss on paper but to us that was a W. That’s a tough team. We schedule our preseason against teams like that so when we hit league we’re prepared. There isn’t another team out in California that’s played a tougher schedule than we have. We’ve gone through everything from close games to blowouts, so next week we’re going to be prepared.” The Eagles held Miller to 109 passing yards in a dominant performance. “They kind of have the same pass formations so I was banking on that,” said Del Oro defensive back Codey Gandy, who intercepted Miller’s only pass and batted down four more. “We had trouble in the beginning of the season but now it seems like we’re peaking. We finally topped it off this week. We’re so excited to go into next week.” The Eagles open SFL play at Granite Bay, the favorite to win the league. “We have a lot of improving to do this week and we’ve got to play a lot better to beat Granite Bay, but what’s why we play the teams we play,” said Del Oro head coach Casey Taylor. “Hopefully we show up next week and play our best game.” Nixon said he’s undecided if Elk Grove will appeal the game. “I don’t know,” he said. “You live with decisions and you move on from there. We’ve got a tough league, and more so than the frustration of that I’m extremely proud of the way the guys battled through some adversity and showed a lot of class at the end.” In the junior varsity game, the Eagles won 33-7. Cameron Saldano caught a touchdown pass from Max Magleby and Cody O’Sullivan, Shoey Martinson, Kenny Andri and Foster Fretland all scored on runs as Del Oro improved to 4-1 overall.