The Honkers came into Friday’s game with something to prove. And they did just that. With the help of Erik Palmquist’s six touchdowns, Yuba City routed Christian Brothers 54-19 in the first round of the CIF San-Joaquin section playoffs at Sacramento City College.
“One thing with our team all season is we just keep pushing, sometimes we have to make slight adjustments, but we always follow through with the tenacity and toughness that we need to get a win and that’s what we did tonight,” Yuba City head coach Aaron Gingery said.
Palmquist’s stellar night was something for the history books as the senior Honker threw for three touchdowns, rushed for two and even had a pick-6 score to start the game.
Christian Brothers quarterback dropped back and threw to the left sideline, but his receiver bobbled the ball and it fell right into Palmquist’s hands.
From there the defensive back made a swift move past a few defenders and took it 39 yards back to the endzone to put Yuba City up 7-0 with 1:34 left in the first quarter.
“We just capitalized, the quarterback made a good throw but it went off the receivers hands and I was in the right place at the right time,” Palmquist said. “I was able to get some help with blockers in front of me too,” he added.
The Falcons were ready to respond as quarterback Jacob Stewart put together an efficient game plan that resulted in a 73-yard bomb to his receiver to tie the game at 7-7 with 33 seconds left in the first period.
Then after the Honkers were penalized on numerous offensive neutral zone infractions, Christian Brothers got possession back again. Stewart went right back to work putting together a solid drive; full of screens and swing passes to the outside. After a nice crossing route through the middle of the field for a score, Christian Brothers took a 13-7 lead over Yuba City with 9:57 left in the first half.
“We knew that he’s an experienced passer and he can beat you if you aren’t careful, we really had to make adjustments there between the first and second quarter,” Honkers linebacker Luke Afato said. “We settled down and then momentum started to help us out. The Honkers would go on to score three more touchdowns before half.
A definite momentum shift.
The first coming from a pass by Palmquist to wide out Antonio Henry, the second on a clutch fourth down conversion later punched in by Takeshi Faupula and the third benefiting from a kickoff recovery that was then scored by a 9-yard rush from Palmquist. Yuba City went into halftime up 28-13 and the Christian Brothers sideline was stunned.
Many were asking whether the Honkers could keep up the strong play in the second half.
They would soon get their answers. First it was Faupula with a nice 33-yard rush for a touchdown, and then Palmquist connected with Henry again on a pass to towards the corner of the end zone.
While it was easy to get lost in the glamour of the Yuba City offense, the defense was also stepping up their game. Afato was able to tally an interception and a sack in the second half, disrupting Stewart’s attempt to lead a comeback for the Falcons.
With Yuba City up 40-19 late in the third quarter, things were starting to look bleak for Christian Brothers. Then they got worse. As if he hadn’t done enough already, Palmquist had what could have been his most impressive play of the night. After the pocket collapsed on him, he managed to evade the pressure running the ball straight up the middle. Numerous defenders tried to bring him down but he kept his feet moving en route to a 45-yard touchdown.
With a running clock in the fourth quarter, Faupula added one more touchdown for the Honkers to make the final score 54-19.
“We know who we are, it sounds funny but we just love to play for each other and have a lot of fun along the way,” Palmquist said.
No. 10 Yuba City (7-4) will play at No. 2 Placer (8-2) next week in Auburn.