Time-after-time this season, second-seeded Cosumnes Oaks have had their backs against the wall. The Wolfpack overcame an 18-point deficit earlier this season to upset Monterey Trail and overcame a 12-point deficit on the road to keep Elk Grove from winning the Delta League.
This week against Granite Bay, the situation was the same for Cosumnes Oaks, and if they were not able to overcome this deficit, it would mean their season would be over.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Wolfpack trailed the Grizzlies 26-20 and once again had to come from behind. Just like the previous times this season, Cosumnes Oaks would erase a second-half deficit by scoring the final 17 points of the game and win 31-20 as they advance to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Semifinals.
“Our offense is like an avalanche and it is only a matter of time before it falls,” said Cosumnes Oaks head coach Andrew Bettencourt.
“We are capable of some really big things and some explosive plays but it is about getting dialed in and avoiding penalties, and that can cost you.”
After getting off to a sluggish start, the Cosumnes Oaks offense came alive in the fourth quarter as quarterback Anthony Grigsby Jr. threw two of his three touchdown passes to Ishmael Rehburg and Jaden Ramos to propel the Wolfpack past the Grizzlies. In addition to having success through the air, Grigsby Jr. was able to scramble and make some good reads in the option running game to pick up yardage, which is something he has not done too much of this season.
“My receivers and I work after practice all the time and to know that any and every single one of them can go up and get the ball when they need to is great,” Grigsby Jr. said.
“We have a lot to work on and, if we play like we played late tonight, then we are unstoppable.”
As the offense got rolling, the Wolfpack defense was able to make adjustments and find ways to apply pressure to Granite Bay quarterback Nick Paulos.
After scoring two touchdowns in a row and taking a 28-20 lead, Cosumnes Oaks defensive lineman Tristian Weaver was able to strip sack Paulos and recover the fumble he forced to give his offense the ball once again. Cosumnes Oaks kicker Kevin Duarte would convert on a 29-yard field goal with a couple of minutes left to give the Wolfpack a two-possession lead and essentially ice the game.
“I challenged him at halftime and asked him if this was all he had left and he answered it with some sacks and the fumble recovery,” Bettencourt said of Weaver.
“Our defense put us in situations to keep us in the game and we made some adjustments and just went from there.”
Granite Bay came into the game with a game plan to try and limit the Wolfpack offense by controlling the ball and keeping them on the sidelines just as other teams have done this season. The Grizzlies’ game plan worked early on and as they scored on the game’s opening possession all while chewing up eight-and-a-half minutes of the first quarter in the process. Poulos found success with short quick passes throughout the first half to slow down Cosumnes Oaks’ pass rush. Poulos connected with wide receiver Cobe Weeks for two touchdown passes in the first half from 11 and 10 yards respectively.
“ I think our defense was a little antsy at first and credit to Granite Bay for doing what they do best,” Bettencourt said.
Down by seven with minutes left in the first half, Cosumnes Oaks was able to drive down the field and score with four seconds left to tie the game heading into halftime, which was crucial. From the 10-yard line, Grigsby threw a pass that was deflected by a Granite Bay defensive player, bounced off a different defenders leg and landed in the hands of tight end Moses Oladejo as he was laying on the ground in the end zone for a remarkable touchdown that swung the momentum of the game.
“That play was huge because he [Oladejo] ran the wrong route and the ball almost played Plinko on the way down and we ended up scoring off of it, and sometimes it is better to be lucky than good,” Bettencourt said.
As a result of coming back to beat Granite Bay, Cosumnes Oaks will host a Division II semifinal game next week against Delta League foe Elk Grove as the Thundering Herd were able to go on the road and upset third-seeded Vacaville 52-29.
Cosumnes Oaks beat Elk Grove on Oct. 25 23-12 and kept them from winning the Delta League, which Davis ended up doing a week later.
“We can take the confidence that we know what we can do against them and know how we can beat them,” Bettencourt said.
“We have to try and take away their runs and we expect some changes from the last time we played them, and it is the battle of Elk Grove to send a team to the finals.”
In addition to Vacaville losing, top-seeded Rocklin was upset by ninth-seeded Whitney 28-6, meaning Cosumnes Oaks is the top remaining seed in D II.