Football: Rancho Cotate takes a beating


AMERICAN CANYON — It was one of those games the Rancho Cotate High football team will want to forget quickly.

The Cougars surrendered 49 points off turnovers, 42 of them coming in the first half, as American Canyon blasted its way to a 56-12 victory on Friday night.

“Everything that could go wrong kind of went wrong, and what are you going to do?” Rancho Cotate coach Ed Conroy said. “I don’t think we’re as bad as we looked.”

Rancho Cotate (2-1) started off its night on defense by dropping Wolves quarterback Michael Rapacon for a 2-yard loss.

That was as good as it would get.

On the next play, American Canyon star running back Jomon Dotson sprinted past the Cougars’ defense for an 82-yard touchdown run, putting the Wolves up 7-0.

Rancho’s ensuing drive took the Cougars 57 yards in 13 plays, taking a little less than 6 minutes off the clock. After back-to-back incompletions by Cougars quarterback Gunner Mefferd, including a catch in the corner of the end zone that was ruled out of bounds, Mefferd’s pass on third-and-goal was intercepted by Wolves defensive back Malik Beachum in the end zone, and returned 102 yards for a touchdown.

It was a 14-point swing that left the Cougars in a two-touchdown hole rather than locked in a tie game.

That proved to be a turning point, Conroy thought.

“It crushes you,” he said. “It really does. I think the kids start to doubt themselves at that point. That confidence level that we came in with at the start of the game, I think it kind of waned right there.”

The second play of the Cougars’ next drive didn’t help. Mefferd’s pitch on second-and-11 to Cooper Nicks was fumbled and recovered by the Wolves. It took American Canyon three plays before Dotson ended the drive with a 34-yard touchdown run that pushed the advantage to 21-0.

After American Canyon’s ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, Conroy chose to have the Wolves kick again. Joshua Belda returned the do-over kickoff and fumbled it, giving the ball back to American Canyon inside Rancho’s 30. Dotson rushed for a 2-yard touchdown eight plays later to make it 28-0.

Just minutes into the second quarter, the turnovers struck again. Nicks, who had moved to quarterback, tossed a pitch to Malik Newtown, who fumbled. It was recovered by American Canyon, setting up Dotson’s fourth touchdown and a 35-0 lead.

The Cougars struck back on their ensuing drive, however. Carlos Franco’s 28-yard touchdown rush put Rancho on the board, and reduced the deficit.

Rancho forced the Wolves to punt on the drive following Franco’s touchdown, but that too turned out poorly — Mefferd was intercepted on the ensuing Cougars’ drive. The fifth turnover of the first half led to another American Canyon touchdown, as the Wolves went into the locker room at halftime with a 42-6 lead.

The Wolves pushed ahead in the second half, already up five touchdowns to start the third quarter. They passed on third downs and for another touchdown, even placing Dotson in the backfield when he mostly wasn’t utilized in the final two quarters for one more touchdown run. Conroy wasn’t too bothered with it.

“I never complain about another coach,” he said. “They do what they want to do. I don’t control that. They control that. Do I like it? Not really, but if that’s what they’re going to do, that’s what they’re going to do. Maybe that’ll motivate us for next year when they come to our place. Maybe we’ll score 60 on them, I don’t know.”


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