Football: Montgomery makes statement with 50-18 win over Dublin

By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Montgomery's Logan Francavilla, center, runs in for a touchdown during the Friday's game against Dublin in Santa Rosa. (Conner Jay / The Press Democrat)

Montgomery’s Logan Francavilla, center, runs in for a touchdown during the Friday’s game against Dublin in Santa Rosa. (Conner Jay / The Press Democrat)

Montgomery took a 22-12 lead into the fourth quarter Friday night, but the Vikings were anything but comfortable. They had gone up 22-0 over Dublin in a first-quarter onslaught, then tripped over themselves for much of the next two quarters as they let the visitors from the Diablo Foothill League hang around and gain confidence.

Montgomery needed a big play. It got several. After another 12 minutes of playing time, the Vikings were leaving the field with a convincing 50-18 victory, a score made slightly more respectable when the Gaels scored a touchdown on the final play of the game.

If Montgomery’s 54-7 win against Pinole Valley in Week 1 was a warning bell, Friday’s result was hard evidence that the Vikings are back to playing good football after slogging through back-to-back mediocre seasons.

“Dublin is, year in and year out, a very good football program,” Monty’s rookie coach Dean Haskins said. “I think this was a significant win for us to, yeah, let people know that Montgomery football is legit this year.”

Haskins still hasn’t lost as a varsity football coach. His Vikings are 2-0.

The win was especially convincing when you consider that this was billed as a dead-even match-up. In MaxPreps’ Freeman rankings, Montgomery entered the game No. 54 in the North Coast Section (among all divisions). Dublin was No. 55.

It wasn’t nearly that close on the field, though the Vikings made things unnecessarily interesting with some sloppy play in the middle portions of the game. The Gaels had just one first down when they got the ball 2:09 before halftime, but they suddenly got hot behind the passing of Josh Nobida, who drove them down the field in hurry-up mode and hit Jabari Jefferson for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 38 seconds on the clock, cutting Montgomery’s lead to 22-6.

On Dublin’s first offensive play of the second half, Nobida found Jefferson wide open down the middle of the field on a busted coverage. This time it was good for an 80-yard scoring play, and the Gaels had cut it to 22-12.

The Vikings, meanwhile, were stabbing themselves in the foot with penalties and mental errors. Even the officials got involved. Montgomery began the second half with a long drive, but were robbed of a play when the down marker flipped ahead to fourth down when it should have been third at the Dublin 22. The Vikings attempted a field goal, and it was blocked.

When another Monty drive petered out at the Dublin 5-yard line — the Gaels’ Dillon Forshey knocking away a fourth-down pass in the end zone — the mood was tense at Jason Franci Field.

The fourth quarter belonged to the Vikings, though. They scored on a 19-yard pass from Elijah Higgs to Justin Eatmon, a 27-yard interception return by Henry Stelzner just 25 seconds later, a nifty 25-yard run by Francavilla and a 17-yard fumble return by linebacker Cole Larson, who played an inspired game on defense.

Francavilla pounded out 191 yards on 25 carries, including 141 yards in the second half.

“Logan runs the ball real tough,” Haskins said. “He grinded it out for us in the second half. We were able to wear them down, and wear the clock down. The longer the game goes on, the stronger he seems to get.”

Montgomery dominated the first quarter of the game, scoring on its first play from scrimmage — a 5-yard run by Francavilla — after Dublin had botched a punt. The Vikings added a 36-yard touchdown reception by Etienne Ezeff on a hanging pass from Higgs, and another short run by Francavilla to go up 22-0.

Jefferson wound up with six catches for 150 yards for the Gaels, and Nobida completed 17 of 40 for 254 yards, though he was picked off twice. Nobida is getting looks from college programs, but the Vikings had him on the run for most of Friday’s game. They sacked him just twice, but pressured him into numerous incompletions.

“Coach (Marcello) Bautista came up with a real good game plan, added some blitz packages to put some pressure on him,” Haskins said of his defensive coordinator. “We made him a little uncomfortable early, and I think that kind of carried through to the rest of the game.”

The rejuvenated Vikings play at Washington High in San Francisco next Saturday.

You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com.

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