Rocklin tops Nevada Union 41-36, improves to 2-0

Former quarterback Sorenson now stars at receiver
By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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The smile on senior Tiger Sorenson’s face said it all. The Rocklin High receiver had just helped the Thunder knock off the visiting Nevada Union Miners 41-36 on Friday night and improve to 2-0 on the season. He had finally put last year’s Nevada Union game behind him. Sorenson was the quarterback when Rocklin went to Grass Valley to play Nevada Union last season, also in Week 2. He was injured early in the first quarter, Rocklin lost 35-28, and his days as the Thunder quarterback were over. This year Sorenson, now a wide receiver, caught six passes for 105 yards. His final reception, on a fourth and seven from the Nevada Union 16-yard-line, put the Thunder up 35-16 with 2:45 left in the third quarter. It was also the fourth touchdown pass of the night for Rocklin junior quarterback Jimmy Laughrea. “The fourth play last year (against Nevada Union) I went down as a quarterback (broken collarbone) and this is a game I had circled on my calendar,” Sorenson said. “I wanted to come out and prove a point. I had a bad taste in my mouth after that game last year . . . It feels good (now).” Laughrea, who took over as soon as Sorenson was injured last season, finished the night completing 21-of-31 passes for 368 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He also ran in an 11-yard touchdown to put Rocklin up 28-16 midway through the third quarter. Other than Sorenson, Laughrea’s other two primary targets were senior receivers Kyle Garvella (six catches, 107 yards, two touchdowns) and Holden Huff (three catches, 101 yards). “All three (receivers) do a very good job of competing and Jimmy did a nice job of making plays,” Rocklin coach Greg Benzel said. “We are pleased with (Laughrea), he made some things happen.” Benzel knew this game meant a little extra to Sorenson. “Absolutely (it does),” Benzel said. “Tiger has shown great character and understands that Jimmy will play quarterback. (Sorenson) is a darn good quarterback but he is better for us at wide receiver.” Sorenson says the transition to receiver wasn’t too hard. “As a quarterback you already know the offense,” Sorenson said. “And when I went down I told (the coaching staff) that I wanted to move to receiver.” Rocklin got off to a quick start Friday night, driving the ball 76 yards for a touchdown on its first possession. The drive ended with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Laughrea to Garvella. After a Nevada Union punt, the duo hooked up again with 5:01 left in the first quarter, this time Garvella catching a two-yard touchdown pass. Andrew Hunter’s extra point made it 14-0 Thunder. The Miners scored later in the quarter (21-yard pass from Broughan Jantz to Eric Niederberger) but Rocklin went up 21-7 midway through the second quarter when Laughrea threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to senior Sean Moore. Rocklin almost scored again near the end of the half but Huff was stripped of the ball while inside the Miners’ 5-yard-line. Nevada Union took possession at its own 20 after the fumbled ball bounced out of the end zone for a touchback. The Thunder led 21-10 at the half and Rocklin’s high-powered offense kept rolling in the second half. The Miners opened the half with a touchdown drive (one-yard scoring run by Drew Hoskin) but Rocklin scored on its first possession of the third quarter as well. The Thunder drove 68 yards and Laughrea closed the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run. The score put Rocklin up 28-16 with 6:48 left in the third. The key play of the drive was a 33-yard completion to Garvella. Four minutes later Rocklin was in the end zone again as Laughrea found Sorenson for the 16-yard touchdown pass on fourth down. “In the huddle I told Jimmy to look on the back side, that they were not covering me,” said Sorenson, who had two defenders around him when he made the grab in the end zone. Rocklin took a 35-16 lead into the fourth quarter but the Miners were far from done. They would score three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, however they had trouble slowing down Rocklin running back Jackson Cummings. The Miners scored one minute into the fourth (one-yard run by Jason Slade) but Rocklin answered back with a four-play, 52-yard touchdown drive. Each play was a run to Cummings as he ripped off gains of 12, 30 and six yards before scoring from four yards out. His touchdown put Rocklin up 41-23 with 8:35 left in the game. The Miners answered back as Slade scored on a 22-yard run about three minutes later to cut into the lead. Then with 1:15 left, Jantz connected with Dan Pettinato on a 27-yard touchdown pass to make the score 41-36. The 2-point conversion pass fell incomplete. Nevada Union’s onside-kick attempt went out of bounds and Cummings was able to run for a first down to ice the game. Cummings finished with 104 yards on 20 carries, running eight times for 75 yards in the fourth quarter. He gained 90 yards on his last 10 carries of the game. “We beat a very good football team tonight,” Benzel said. “I’m very proud of our effort and emotions and the ability to make big plays . . . Our defense showed a lot in being able to contain Nevada Union. And we had a lot of guys banged up so other guys stepped in.” Sorenson, who knows something about being banged up, says this is a tighter group than last year. “I think it seems like we are more bonded this year,” Sorenson said. “More of a brotherhood and it seems like we’re really close.” Nevada Union’s junior varsity team beat Rocklin 64-0.