Football: Petaluma squeezes by Santa Rosa 13-12

Petaluma’s Brendan White (5) hurdles over Santa Rosa’s  Carter Lindstrom-Drake during the first half of Friday’s game. (Erik Castro / For The Press Democrat)

Petaluma’s Brendan White (5) hurdles over Santa Rosa’s Carter Lindstrom-Drake during the first half of Friday’s game.
(Erik Castro / For The Press Democrat)


The Petaluma High football team held on, despite a late surge from Santa Rosa, to win its season opener 13-12 Friday night in Santa Rosa.

Quarterback Brendan White connected with Harrison Royall on an 8-yard catch to put the Trojans on the board in the first quarter, 7-0.

Greg Thomas hit the extra point, then nailed a field goal three minutes later and Petaluma led 10-0 heading into halftime.

Thomas continued to push the Trojans’ lead in the second half, when he connected on a 25-yard field goal.

“My snapper and my holder helped me a lot,” Thomas said.

The Panthers got on the board in the third quarter when Devonte Manning caught a 30-yard pass from sophomore Cassius Banks and raced the remaining 45 yards to complete a 75-yard score and cut Petaluma’s lead to 13-6.

“I think we were very physical up front,” Krist said, “considering Manning is a horse for them. We have to know where he is at all times.”

The talk in the locker is what shook the Panthers up for the better.

“At halftime, I called them out,” Santa Rosa coach Dave Duncan said. “Just told them they needed to wake up a little earlier and then they protected a lot better in that second half.”

Santa Rosa continued its comeback when Banks found Caezon Murrillo for a 14-yard touchdown reception, cutting the deficit to one point late in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers decided to go for the victory, but a running play was stopped short of the goal line on the two-point conversion. Following an unsuccessful onside kick, the Trojans took a knee and escaped with the win.

“I knew we had worked hard all summer for this and I knew that we needed to stop them,” Thomas said. “I knew we were going to do it.”

The mental mistakes will need to be addressed in the coming weeks, Petaluma coach Rick Krist said.

“There were some key mistakes with the turnovers and penalties that we had early on some key plays,” he said.

“We’ve really got to clean that stuff up.”

With both teams racking up double-digit penalties — more than half were in the fourth quarter — Krist said it was almost customary considering it was the season opener.

“It’s common this early in the year,” he explained. “It’s good that we got the win, but we need to work on it for next week.”

One of the most prominent errors, Krist said, was his own decision to not kick a field goal on fourth down.

“I made some mental mistakes,” Krist explained, “but the boys picked me right back up.”

The penalties plagued both teams and were a sore subject on both sidelines.

“Early on, penalties played a big part in what we were trying to do and it deterred us,” Duncan said.

The mistakes and penalties in the first half could not be blamed on anyone else, Duncan said, and it was the execution that was the difference of the two halves.

“We needed to come out and execute and we didn’t do that in the first half,” he said. “That’s what put us down in that situation.”

Santa Rosa was without quarterback Harvey McPeters in the second half, after the 5-foot-9 senior left with an upper arm injury in the second quarter.

Duncan didn’t have any updates on McPeters’ condition after the game.

White finished with 14 carries for 72 yards and had two completions for a touchdown and an interception.

White is gaining ground mentally and is forming a good relationship with those around him on the field, Krist said.

“He’s got a ways to grow, but I think he’s going to be one of the best quarterbacks in the county,” he said.

Senior Yusef Kawasami finished with nine carries for 77 yards for Petaluma, while Matt Saxton had seven carries for 27 yards.

Senior Jahi Hayes led the Panthers with seven carries for 37 yards. Manning finished with five carries for 57 yards and a touchdown.

“That’s the thing about Petaluma football,” Krist said in the postgame huddle, “We are always better the next week.”

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