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Redemption for Sutter
Huskies top defending champ Orland 20-3
It was a game pitting two of the top defenses in the Northern Section, and for fans of hard-hitting, smashmouth football, Sutter High's Wayne Gadberry Field was the place to be as defending Division II champion Orland and the Huskies engaged in the highly anticipated rematch of last year's title game.
As expected, both defenses controlled the majority of the action, but when it came down to crunch time in the fourth quarter, it was Sutter's depth and trademark running game that proved to be the difference.
Senior fullback Nathan Ahlers rumbled for 119 yards including a 44-yard touchdown run in the final period and the Huskies' defense held the Trojans in check over the final three quarters, lifting Sutter to a 20-3 victory over a tough and talented Trojans team on Friday night.
The win gave the Huskies a small bit of revenge after losing to Orland twice last season, and put Sutter firmly in the driver's seat in the race for a potential Butte View League title.
"It was a war of attrition," said Sutter coach Ryan Reynolds. "I knew coming in they were low on numbers and since we platoon our players, I knew in the second half we would be OK — it was just a matter of executing."
The Trojans (3-2, 1-1) showed they were ready to play from the start and found the scoreboard first on a lengthy 18-play, 67-yard drive on the game's opening possession.
Orland converted on third down three times and moved the chains again on a fourth down during the drive, which took up the first 8:30 of the first quarter. Sutter's defense finally stiffened at the goal line, but Aldrick Rosas booted a 20-yard field goal to give Orland a 3-0 lead.
However, that would be about all the offense the Trojans would muster this night as the Huskies held Orland to a mere 4 yards of total offense the rest of the game. Orland punted four times and had negative-1 yard of offense on its other first-half possessions and moved the ball just 5 yards the entire second half.
Rover Philip Robledo led the charge with a pair of sacks, while defensive end Garrett Wallace and inside linebacker Ryan Stass came up big as well. Cornerback Trenton McDaniel also recovered a fumble.
"We knew it was going to be tough. We came out flat at the start, but we regrouped at halftime and made the adjustments," said Wallace, who along with Robledo and Stass are three-year varsity starters for the Huskies. "I love games like this. It was a battle and that prepares you for championships."
The score remained 3-0 until early in the second quarter when the Huskies' offense finally got on track.
After taking the ball over at their own 10-yard line, quarterback Trent Little busted loose for a 51-yard run to move the ball into Orland territory. On third-and-11, Little found Alex Ingram all alone in the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown pass, giving Sutter a 7-3 lead that stood until halftime.
Sutter (5-0, 2-0) began wearing down the Trojans in the second half, but two turnovers kept the Huskies off the scoreboard in the third period.
Things changed for good in the fourth when Ingram carried the ball three times for 37 yards to move the ball down to the Orland 1-yard line. Mat Sanders found the end zone from there, giving Sutter a 14-3 lead.
Ahlers then put the game away with his 44-yard TD run right up the middle with 7:08 left to play.
"It was very physical and I knew that coming in. But when it mattered most it was the basic stuff that was working," Reynolds said. "Our running game is our bread and butter. We wanted to lean on them and pound on them and let our horses run."
Sanders finished with 83 yards on 13 carries for the Huskies, who turned the ball over four times on the night after not coughing the ball up at all over their first four games. They finished with 320 yards of offense, 287 of which came on the ground.