SACRAMENTO, Calif. –
It's one of the most famous numbers in American sport – the amount of games Joltin' Joe DiMaggio delivered base hits in consecutively.
's 41-20 victory over Grant (Sacramento)
Friday in a high school football game before 20,200 fans at Sacramento State had no real connection – not even the same sport – this was indeed a jolt.
Largely because of the very same startling turnaround number.
On August 28 the same teams met and Grant dominated from start to finish in a 49-14 whitewash before 10,000 fans jammed into Folsom's home stadium and a nationally-televised ESPN audience.
Three months later, Folsom (13-1) redeemed itself by turning that score upside down and inside out with a remarkable 56-point swing. It lifted the Bulldogs to their first Sac-Joaquin Section title in two decades and an almost assured invitation to the CIF Division II Bowl Game in Carson on Dec. 18. Live blog from game.
The sting of that August loss not to mention an even more painful 43-42 season-ending defeat last year to Del Oro when it squandered a 35-7 halftime lead, was all washed away with a simply superlative effort led by dynamic 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior quarterback
and 5-11, 195-pound running back/receiver/defensive back Jordan Richards
Graves cemented his name as a National Player of the Year candidate by accounting for 418 of his team's 504 yards and six touchdowns. The Stanford-bound Richards, with Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh in attendance, seemed to be involved in every big play with 10 catches for 207 yards and one score, and a game-high 11 tackles not to mention an all-but-game-clinching interception.
When Graves put the finishing touches on this one – a 25-yard touchdown scamper around left end with 44 seconds left – he pointed his left index finger into the air and flailed his fist, starting off a wild celebration.
Folsom coach Kris Richardson, who showed great poise and restraint after the 35-point season-opening loss and all but promised his team would earn a rematch 13 weeks later, could barely contain himself after this one.
This was the ultimate redemption.
"What a phenomenal effort by our guys," he said. "This is the best feeling I've had as a coach."
His absolute fearless – borderline reckless approach – certainly had much to do with Folsom's 13th straight victory.
The Bulldogs never even thought about punting, going for it on fourth down six times – converting three – the most crucial was the very first time from its own 31 with three yards to go early in the first quarter.
Graves hooked up with Richards for a 26-yard gain and on the very next play, the two hooked up for a 43-yard touchdown bomb down the right sideline and the Bulldogs were on their way.
Even though two fourth-down tries failed in the red zone and probably cost his team six points, Richardson's relentless approach sent a message that Folsom wasn't there to finesse past the nation's eighth-ranked team.
The Bulldogs went for the jugular.
"That's just what we do," Richardson said. "That's what we had to do."
To beat Grant (13-1), a team and program known for its confidence and swagger – that's how it stood toe-to-toe and knocked off indomitable Long Beach Poly in the 2008 State Open Division Bowl game – that was exactly the right attitude to take.
Certainly it worked in Folsom's favor that Grant's two most valuable two-way skill players Shaq Thompson
and Ference Lang
weren't nearly 100 percent.
Thompson, nursing a badly sprained ankle, made his mark on one touchdown drive – hauling in a beautiful 25-yard touchdown pass from
after rambling for a 54-yard run to tie the game at 13-13. But he ran with far less authority and had just 14 touches (92 yards rushing).
Lang, also hobbled with a ankle sprain, got in on only a couple of plays and didn't touch the ball. The duo accounted for more than 2,800 rushing yards and 44 touchdowns coming in.
Grant mustered almost 300 yards without them (292), but their absence was more vital on defense as lock down cornerbacks.
Graves (23 of 38, 289 yards, four touchdowns) and an extremely talented receiving corp led by Richards, Tyler Trosin
(eight catches, 93 yards, two touchdowns) and Kori Babineaux
(30-yard touchdown) were just too much to contain.
The ever-elusive Graves, nursing a right knee brace to mobilize a strain that kept him out a portion of last week's semifinal win, seemed to gain confidence in his mobility as the game progressed.
He carried a game-high 24 times for 129 yards, including the game's back-breaker, a scintillating 64-yard touchdown run down the left sideline midway through the third quarter giving the Bulldogs a commanding 34-13 lead.
"My knee was fine," Graves said. "I'm so proud of my team. It's what we all worked so hard for. It's a dream come true."
Folsom 41, Grant 20
Folsom 6 14 14 7 - 41
Grant 6 7 7 0 - 20First quarter
G – FG, Charlie Vue
F – Jordan Richards 43 pass from Dano Graves (run failed), 5:20
G – FG, Vue 30, 3:42Second quarter
F – Kori Babineaux 30 pass from Graves (Dillon Wessing
G – Shaq Thompson 25 pass from Terry Shine (Vue kick), 9:54
F – Tyler Trosin 5 pass from Graves (Wessing kick), 0:19Third quarter
F – Trosin 7 pass from Graves (Wessing kick), 7:11
F – Graves 64 run (Wessing), 5:16
G – Ronald Johnson
36 pass from Shine (Vue kick), 1:39 Fourth quarter
F – Graves 25 run (Wessing kick), 0:44Team statistics
First downs: Folsom 21, Grant 11
Rushes/yards: Folsom 27/138, Grant 32/105
Passing: Folsom 24-40-2, Grant 8-15-1
Yards passing: Folsom 366, Grant 187
Total yards: Folsom 504, Grant 292
Fumbles/lost: Folsom 0/0, Grant 0/0
Penalties/yards lost: Folsom 6/50, Grant 5/49
Turnovers: Folsom 2, Grant 1
Time of possession: Folsom 25:17, Grant 22:43
Third-down conversion: Folsom 7/14, Grant 3/11
Fourth-down conversion: Folsom 3/6, Grant 1/3Individual statistics
Graves 24-129, T. Trosin 1-8, Richards 1-1. Grant:
Thompson 13-92, K. Richards 5-16, Semisi Pea 1-10, Tui Lopa 1-1, Shine 12-(-14).
Graves 23-38-2-289, Tanner Trosin
1-1-0-77, Team 0-1-0. Grant:
Shine 8-14-1-187, Thompson 0-1-0-0.
Richards 10-207, T. Trosin 8-93, Babineaux 2-37, Carson Mcmurtrey
2-15, Marcus Hendricks
Johnson 3-112, Lychauan Jones 3-44, Thompson 1-25, Darryl Paulo 1-6.
Richards 11, Sam Lueken
10, Dan Curry
Puka Lopa 9, Vidal Davis 8, Villiami Moala 8.
SACKSFolsom: Burton Dekoning
2, Trevor Jones 0.5, Stephen Sippel
Lopa 1.5, Moala 0.5.
: Richards. Grant:
Isaih Taylor, T. Henderson. RECORDS:
Folsom 13-1, Grant 13-1.
Folsom vs. Grant, Calif. SJS DII Title Game
Cover image by Gary Jones