Small-school football roundup: Middletown clinches at least share of NCL I crown

By TED SILLANPAA
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Austin Benson rushed for four touchdowns Friday night as Middletown High clinched at least a tie for the North Central I football championship.

The host Mustangs scored 22 unanswered points and raced past Clear Lake, 38-6.

Middletown is 6-0 in the NCL I and 8-1 overall. They have a one-game lead over second-place St. Helena with one game left in the regular season. The Saints lost to the sizzling Mustangs 21-6 in Middletown on Oct. 11.

The running back Benson had two 37-yard touchdown runs, then raced 63 yards for a score. He added an 8-yard burst late in the contest.

Senior Brad Beckwith bulled into the end zone from two yards out to open the scoring for Middletown. Brad Bologna caught a pass from quarterback Josiah Amos for the 2-point conversion.

Clear Lake responded when quarterback Adrian Adams hooked up with David Mansell for a 26-yard scoring pass. The kick failed to leave the Mustangs up 8-6.

Clear Lake falls to 3-3 in the NCL I and into a tie for fourth place with Fort Bragg. The Cardinals are are 5-4 with one game remaining.

Cloverdale 42, Fort Bragg 27

At Fort Bragg, the four-game losing streak to open the season is a distant memory as the Eagles moved into sole possession of third place in the NCL I with the win. A victory in the final regular season game, coupled with a Saint Helena loss, would push Cloverdale into a tie for second place.

Senior quarterback Josh Holden threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Greg Scarmella and a 23-yard scoring toss to Luis Gutierrez. He ran in from six yards out as the Eagles pulled away in the second half after ending the first half tied 14-14.

Sophomore running back Luke Bernardi ran for three scores for Cloverdale finishing with 216 yards on the ground. Gutierrez kicked five conversions.

Fort Bragg running back Zach Smith scored three touchdowns.

Cloverdale is 4-2 in the league and 4-5. Fort Bragg tumbled to 3-3 and 4-5.

Kelseyville 59, Lower Lake 29

At Lower Lake, Kevin Duty returned a kickoff 88 yards and scored two rushing touchdowns to lift the Knights to a lopsided victory.

Robert McLean scored two touchdowns as first-year head coach Mike McGuire’s team improved to 2-4 in the NCL I and 5-4 overall. Lower Lake is 1-5 in league and 3-6 overall.

Julius Nelson’s touchdown rounded out Kelseyville’s scoring.

Isazah King ran for all four of Lower Lake’s touchdowns and for two 2-point conversions. St. Helena 60, Willits 0

St. Helena 60, Willits 0

At Willits, the Saints kept their hope for a co-NCL I title alive with a lopsided victory on the road.

St. Helena is 5-1 in the league and 7-2 overall, one game behind unbeaten, first-place Middletown. The Saints host Cloverdale Nov. 8 to end the regular season. Middletown will visit Lower Lake.

Sebastian Segura rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns.

Quarterback Jack Preston threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Davon Browne, followed by a 4-yard toss to Gatlin Blakeley. Kile Grayson, Jahvier Otero, Pepe Gallegos and Cole Lyons all ran for touchdowns for the Saints. Raul Bernal booted four extra-points.

The Saints’ defense was led by Tony Navone with nine tackles.

Willits falls to 0-6 in the NCL I and 0-8 overall.

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