By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
SONOMA — For practically all of the third quarter, and much of the fourth, Sonoma Valley and San Marin took turns shredding one another’s defense. Finally, somebody made a stop.
That team was the Dragons, who escaped with a 41-39 victory Friday night at Arnold Field, in a heart-stopping game full of big plays, botched extra points and trash talking.
Junior quarterback Dan Deely was masterful for Sonoma Valley, passing for 297 yards and five touchdowns, including three to senior wide receiver Dustin Sloane.
“He makes big plays, and he’s getting better and better as a quarterback,” Sonoma coach Mick O’Meara said. “His sophomore year he played running back and receiver and defensive back for us. But he’s one of those exceptional kids in terms of how he sees the field.”
It was a defensive play by Deely, who still plays defensive back, that helped preserve the win. He dove to break up a potential touchdown pass on a fourth-down play with 4:48 left in the game.
San Marin had one more shot at sending the game into overtime, though. The Mustangs scored on Manny Wilkins’ touchdown pass to Jason Shannon with 1:16 on the clock. But Sonoma came up big on the attempted 2-point conversion, stopping running back David Marinoff inches short of the goal line.
It was appropriate, as extra-point tries vexed these teams all night. Sonoma Valley missed three kicks (one of them blocked), and San Marin was unsuccessful on four 2-point attempts; the only 2-pointer the Mustangs got came on a muffed snap that Shannon, who doubles as kicker, ran into the end zone.
“Kind of sloppy at time, but got the win,” Deely said.
The Dragons finally put the game away when Brennan Cole withstood a vicious hit to control a late onside kick.
For a while, it looked as though the opponents would simply trade touchdowns. After San Marin began the second half by forcing a punt, the floodgates were officially open.
The Mustangs’ D’andre Wright capped a 65-yard drive with a 4-yard burst up the middle. Deely found the wide-open Sloane for a 71-yard scoring pass on the next play from scrimmage. Wilkins hit Kaden Svahlin with a 10-yard touchdown pass.
Sonoma replied with Deely’s 29-yard TD pass to Chris Lopez. Wilkins’ pass to Shannon set up a 3-yard run by Marinoff early in the fourth quarter. Deely found Sloane again, for 55 yards. And San Marin seemed poised to strike again when Deely broke up that pass to Shannon with 4:48 left.
Frustrating for the Mustangs, perhaps even more than the missed PATs, was having a touchdown negated by a penalty. With the clock running down before halftime, Wilkins danced in the pocket to buy time, then found Svahlin in the end zone, but an offensive lineman was flagged for being too far downfield. The officials gave San Marin one untimed play, and Deely broke up that pass, too.
San Marin had another touchdown taken off the board because of a holding penalty in the third quarter, but found the end zone again that time.
Sloane caught six passes for 197 yards for Sonoma Valley. Justin McDonald rushed for 91 yards, and Deely added 73 on the ground. Marinoff was a nightmare for the Dragons, rushing for 221 yards on 28 carries. The athletically gifted Wilkins, just a junior, passed for 176 yards (130 in the second half) and ran for 89.
The Dragons improved to 2-1, with a trip to American Canyon scheduled for next week. San Marin fell to 0-3.
You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5263 or email@example.com.