A week after the Franklin Wildcats went through a tragedy, there were smiles all around and spirits flew high, but it wasn’t enough as they fell to the Jesuit Marauders 34-14 Friday night.
Jesuit built a quick 13-0 lead in the first quarter as Marauder senior quarterback Daniel Susac threw two touchdown passes to wide open receivers without a Wildcat defender in sight.
Susac’s 51-yard TD pass was to senior wide receiver Jagger Saca on the first drive of the game, junior wide receiver Nathan Lewis was the other recipient on a 52-yard strike from Susac.
Franklin was able to stop the Jesuit momentum when senior running back Reagan Fonbuena busted through the defense with a 51-yard TD rush to cut the deficit to 13-7 towards the end of the first quarter.
The Marauders (2-3, 1-0) added another touchdown in the second quarter when junior running back Ace Saca punched in a two-yard TD rush with 8:44 to go in the first half.
Jesuit had a 20-7 lead at the end of the first half.
The Wildcats’ (2-4, 0-2) received the second half kick, but fumbled as they brought it up field and Jesuit recovered the ball deep into Franklin territory.
Susac found a receiver for a 13-yard TD reception on the first play to give the Marauders a 27-7 lead with under 20 seconds gone in the second half.
Instead of giving up, Franklin responded and marched down the field for an 80-yard drive that was capped off by a three-yard TD rush for his second and last of the night with 6:25 left in the third quarter.
Jesuit’s final score of the night happened when Susac passed his fourth TD pass of the night to junior wide receiver Jacob Hall for 28 yards.
Franklin had three possessions in the fourth quarter to put points on the board but couldn’t capitalize as Jesuit killed the clock by running the ball.
In his first varsity start, Franklin junior quarterback Denzen Cortez said he felt comfortable running the Wildcats’ offense.
This was his first start of the season due to Franklin quarterback Brandon Bautista-Rundgren suffering a shoulder injury last week at Pleasant Grove that will keep him out for the rest of the football season.
“I was able to learn some key points that affected the game and how some of the drives went in the game,” Cortez said about what he learned from Bautista-Rundgren for the preparation of Jesuit.
Cortez added that this year has been a learning experience because losing is unfamiliar to him as he had success as the quarterback for freshmen junior varsity campaigns the last two seasons.
Although I’m filling in the role at quarterback for the rest of season, I told them (Franklin players) to trust me,” Cortez said. “I told them to keep fighting and don’t give up during the game.”
Cortez completed 12 of 22 passes for 116 yards with one interception thrown on the night.
Franklin head coach, Evan Boylan, was impressed with Cortez and how he handled his game in the first varsity start of his career.
“I loved the toughness he played with,” Boylan said. “When he was pressured, he kept his eyes down field and was able to extend some plays.”
Boylan added that they had to come out and play aggressive because he had so much respect for the Jesuit offense.
On the Wildcats’ first drive, they had a fourth and short on their own 35, instead of punting Boylan decided to go for it and Cortez was able to extend the drive.
“We pride ourselves on running the football,” Boylan said.
Fonbuena had his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season against the Marauders.
“We didn’t establish the running game as early as we would have liked, but we used what we could get,” Fonbuena said.
He had 29 carries and 134 rushing yards on the night with the two touchdowns.
Franklin has a bye-week this week, so they will not play until Oct. 11, where they will be the road team as they battle with the Cosumnes Oaks Wolfpack.
The two teams share the stadium on the campus of Cosumnes Oaks, so the rivalry game atmosphere started to set in.
The game against the Wolfpack will kick-off at 7:15 p.m., at Wolfpack Stadium.
Boylan said that he is excited for the bye-week so some of his players can recover some minor wear and tear injuries to get healthy.