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Falcons stunned by Woodland
Wolves shock River Valley 46-24
A mystified River Valley High football team huddled at midfield on Friday night at Falcon Stadium trying to comprehend what had just taken place.
The blow the Falcons absorbed in the penultimate game of the 2012 regular season was more than a punch to the gut — it was a haymaker they didn't see coming.
Woodland entered Friday's Tri-County Conference matchup with River Valley at 1-7 and 1-2 in TCC play. The Wolves' lone win was over winless Natomas.
Despite having no shot at reaching the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, the Wolves were more than content to play the role of spoiler. Now, the Falcons have one final game to save their season.
Woodland shocked River Valley with a 46-24 victory, making next week's Mayor's Cup with Yuba City a must-win game if the Falcons hope to make the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
The biggest obstacle this week for River Valley will be getting back to full strength.
The Falcons entered Friday night's game without the services of fullback Kyle Magenheimer and received an even bigger blow when standout junior T.J. Dove left Friday's game in the first quarter with a right leg contusion.
Both quarterback Izaya Johnson and running back Dewey Maxham each suffered injuries during the course of the contest that caused them to miss playing time as well.
"If we get healthy, we can play with anybody in this league," said River Valley coach Brandon Asher. "Maybe this was an eye-opener for us."
River Valley (5-4, 2-2) knew it was in for a dog fight from the opening kickoff when Woodland recovered a pooch kick. The Wolves scored three plays later on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Young to Doug Coman.
The Falcons responded with a 53-yard drive that culminated in Maxham's 5-yard touchdown run to make it 7-7. Dove contributed a 30-yard run to that drive.
After Woodland missed a field goal on the ensuing possession, RV took over at its own 20-yard line. Dove's final carry was an impressive 25-yard run, but he suffered the aforementioned injury on the play.
The River Valley offense couldn't muster much after Dove's departure, punting on three of its next four possessions.
Coman picked up a 68-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to give Woodland a 13-7 lead and Young found Devin Jones for a 29-yard hookup to extend that lead to 19-7.
River Valley senior Triston Montoya made it 19-10 at halftime with his 27-yard field goal.
Woodland coach Bert Salinas has dealt with his own bevy of injury problems this season, a major contributor to the Wolves' losing record.
"We scheduled up this preseason and lost 10 players early," Salinas said. "These kids always battle and they work hard every week. They play physical and they're tough. I knew we had a good shot tonight if we just came out and did what we had to do and execute."
Woodland broke things open in the third quarter on Alex Preciado's 55-yard touchdown run. A Falcon turnover on the ensuing possession set up yet another Preciado score, this time from 37 yards out as the Wolves held a 32-10 lead.
Reserve quarterback Mark Nelson relieved the injured Johnson in the fourth quarter and drove the Falcons 68 yards to paydirt, scoring on a 1-yard plunge. The biggest play on the drive was his 28-yard pass to Jordan Noall.
Woodland's offense kept the pressure on though as Young scored on a 29-yard quarterback keeper to make it 39-16. Preciado's third touchdown with 2:37 left in regulation was the final dagger.
Johnson returned to play late in the fourth quarter and scored on a 9-yard run to give the Falcons their final score.
"Our goal was to finish the season 3-2," Salinas said. "These kids have so much heart."
With Yuba City's win over Natomas, the Honkers clinched at least a share of the TCC title. River Valley is out of title contention, but can knock off their biggest rival and earn the program's first ever playoff berth with a victory next Friday.
The message after Friday's loss was simple: The Falcons beat the Honkers last year, they can do it again in 2012.
"We can't dwell on this," Asher said. "If we beat Yuba City next week we'd be 6-4, we'd still be making the playoffs and that's something that these kids would be able to be proud of for the rest of their lives."