Analy rules SCL again

Analy's Ja'narrick James runs the ball during the game held at Petaluma High School, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Analy’s Ja’narrick James runs the ball during the game held at Petaluma High School, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)



PETALUMA — The Analy Tigers ran exactly three offensive plays in the third quarter on Friday. And, boy, did they make the most of those plays.

Two of those third-quarter snaps were long touchdown passes from Will Smith to Kerr Johnson Jr. — on consecutive offensive plays — that allowed the Tigers to build a 17-point lead. They would need those points against a determined and much-improved Petaluma team, and Analy ultimately walked off with a 34-23 victory at Steve Ellison Field.

Afterward, Petaluma coach Rick Krist sounded anything but consoled by the hard-fought loss.

“We came into the game thinking we could win this game,” Krist said. “Their two long, long passes — back breakers. But we moved the ball. We did the things that we wanted to do. We didn’t want to give them the big plays, because that’s their M.O. … I’m very proud of our boys.”

The game wasn’t really over until just inside of 2 minutes, with the Trojans down by 11 points and driving in Analy territory. Quarterback Brendan White was looking to spike the ball and stop the clock after a first down, but he never got the snap cleanly from center Chris Temple and Tigers defensive tackle Jesse Erdmann fell on the loose ball.

The victory was Analy’s 20th in a row in Sonoma County League play, and it gave the Tigers (9-1, 6-0) their third consecutive outright SCL championship. Petaluma (7-3, 4-2) could have tied for the league title with a victory.

Clearly, though, the Trojans are vastly improved this season. Last year they fell to Analy by a combined score of 84-19 in back-to-back games, one to end the regular season and the next in the first round of the North Coast Section Division 3 playoffs.

This one was much closer. Petaluma’s triple-option offense controlled the ball for much of the game with running back Yusef Kawasmi pounding out 181 yards on 20 carries and White adding 82 yards on 19 attempts. All told, the Trojans rushed for 326 yards against one of the best teams in the Redwood Empire.

“He’s a load,” Erdmann said of Kawasmi. “We tried to tackle him low, but he was dragging us.”

Petaluma asserted its running attack immediately, driving 65 yards in 13 plays before settling for a field goal about 9 minutes into the game. That set off a back-and-forth exchange between the two rivals. Analy went up 7-3 on Ja’Narrick

James’ touchdown plunge on fourth-and-goal inside the 1. The Trojans regained the lead 10-7 on White’s 7-yard run.

The Tigers fought back to take a 14-10 advantage on a slant from Smith that Johnson turned into a 27-yard touchdown, set up by James’ big punt return.

As it turned out, Johnson was just getting warmed up. A few minutes into the second half, Johnson sped down the right sideline and hauled in a perfectly thrown pass from Smith for a 43-yard score. After the Tigers forced a three-and-out, they went back to the same play, and Smith and Johnson connected for a 42-yard touchdown.

Petaluma was down 27-10 at that point, but far from beaten. Kawasmi picked up a first down on a third-and-5 play, spun away from a would-be tackler and rumbled for a 72-yard touchdown. And after Lucas Dentoni recovered an onside kick for the Trojans, Greg Thomas scored on a short plunge to cut Analy’s lead to 27-23.

But the Tigers went deep again. This time Smith hit Malcolm Jenkins down the left sideline for a 54-yard gain. Moments later, Analy had Smith’s touchdown dive negated by a penalty for an illegal shift. But on fourth-and-goal from the 6, he dropped back and checked down to James, and the shifty runner scored to give his team a 13-point edge.

That made things hard on Petaluma, a team that hadn’t thrown a single pass up to that point. The Trojans picked up a few first downs, but Analy made them work hard for the yardage, and time was slipping away even before the fumbled exchange.

“We could’ve thrown it up. That’s not really who we are,” Krist said. “That’s not the kind of game we play. I think if we could’ve had a little bit better drive at the end, moved the ball a little quicker, I think with an onside kick we would’ve been in it.”

Both of these SCL teams expect to get playoff bids when the Division 3 seedings are announced Sunday.