Football: Rancho Cotate bounces back, beats Windsor

Rancho Cotate's Carlos Franco runs through the Windsor defense during Friday night's game. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

Rancho Cotate’s Carlos Franco runs through the Windsor defense during Friday night’s game. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

ROHNERT PARK — Playing simple yet determined football, Rancho Cotate took control early and made big plays to keep Windsor in check for a North Bay League opening win Friday.

Rancho Cotate began the game with a 13-play drive and kept Windsor’s offense on the sideline for much of the first half with a strong running game. Then the Cougars answered Windsor’s third-quarter scoring drive with a sack and fumble recovery for a touchdown in the 43-14 win.

“We kind of went back to our old school ways. We knew we could beat them up front,” said running back Malik Newton, who led all ball carriers with 106 yards.

Down three scores beginning the second half, Windsor showed no quit, outgaining their hosts in the final two periods. But the Jaguars were hurt by the back-breaking fumble and an end zone interception, totaling four turnovers in the game.

“Things may not have gone our way,” said Windsor receiver Matt Basich, who finished with 11 catches for 157 yards. “But what I know is this group has a lot of heart. We always bounce back.”

Both teams were 2-1 going into the game. And each team’s goals were clear.

Rancho Cotate sought to regain footing following a drubbing at American Canyon. A very good week of workouts had the Cougars set for a rebound.

“We tried to practice a little bit better. We tried to refocus our team,” said Rancho Cotate coach Ed Conroy.

Windsor has started games strong, but struggled to put away opponents. A constant for the Jaguars is camaraderie boosting confidence that the team can compete every week.

“We need to improve on playing four quarters. We haven’t put together four quarters yet in any game,” said Windsor coach Vic Amick.

Scoring in all four periods, Rancho Cotate played a complete contest Friday. The Cougars were a step quicker across the field and often shed tacklers, gaining valuable additional yards.

The best drive was the game opener. Running the ball 10 times and mixing in several passes including a fourth-down conversion, Rancho Cotate ran off more than half the first quarter to take a lead the Cougars would not relinquish.

Staying with the run for their entire second possession, the Cougars scored again two plays into the second period.

Minimizing mistakes by limiting pressure on the offense was Rancho Cotate’s strategy. The Cougars largely kept the the ball on the ground — 223 rushing yards — and passed enough to keep Windsor from packing the line.

“We tried to narrow it down. We wanted to keep it simple,” Conroy said.

In a first half when Rancho Cotate ran twice as many plays as Windsor, the Jaguars managed to stay in the game with one defensive stand and Shane Swenson’s 94-yard kickoff return for a score.

A scoring drive to open the second half buoyed Windsor and the Jaguars defense followed by forcing Rancho Cotate to punt. Leading the Jaguars defense was Jeremy Thompson with six tackles. Windsor back Hunter Hanson balanced Colin McAlvain’s sharp passing to carry the Jaguars to the score, a fourth down touchdown grab by Basich.

But Hanson was forced from the game by an injury on the drive. In the first half starting back Christian Roberge was injured and didn’t return.

Driving again, Windsor lost a fumble on a sack and Evan Kyorkian picked up the loose ball and ran untouched 54 yards for the score.

On the next possession Windsor drove to the Rancho Cotate 7. On third-and-goal McAlvain’s pass was tipped and Isaiah Barragan got the interception.

Leading the Rancho Cotate defense was defensive back Cale Tuttle with six tackles and a sack, playing defensive end on passing downs. Anchoring the Cougars line was Steven DeSouza, who had a sack and recovered a fumble.

“Windsor’s a good team. We had the right calls for the right plays,” DeSouoza said. “Everyone just did their jobs.”

Michael Coit can be reached at Mike.Coit@pressdemocrat.com

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