Video: Highlights from De La Salle's 14-0 win over Folsom
See all the hard-hitting action from both teams in Friday's national showdown.
CONCORD, Calif. — For a spring and summer, Northern California football fans imagined the head-on collision between two of the nation's top programs in a tantalizing season-opening showdown.
Few could have fathomed what actually occurred — a De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
14-0 slug-fest victory over 19th-ranked Folsom before more
than 7,000 fans crammed in and around Owen Owens Stadium on Friday night.
In a game that featured traditional high octane offenses, both defenses dominated, particularly the 18th-ranked Spartans, who forced five turnovers, recorded seven sacks and registered the first shutout against a Folsom team since 2004.
Five star linebacker Henry To'oto'o
(10 tackles, two fumble recoveries), four-star defensive lineman/tight end Isaiah Foskey
(seven tackles, two sacks), safety Shamar Garrett
(two interceptions) and cornerback Amir Wallace
(four pass deflections) helped De La Salle extend its Northern California unbeaten stream to a remarkable 291 games.
This against a Folsom team that returned 15 starters from last year's 16-0 state-title team that piled up 770 points.
The Bulldogs shut down De La Salle in equally impressive fashion, allowing just 214 yards. But a touchdown pass and run from sophomore quarterback
was all the Spartans needed to gain the inside track to another Northern California berth into the CIF State Open Division title game.
De La Salle hasn't lost to a NorCal opponent (North of Fresno) since 1991.
"I wasn't expecting us to score just 14 points," De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh said. "And I certainly wasn't expecting them not to score any. That was clearly a supreme defensive effort. Considering our opponent, that was one of the best we've ever had. That was special."
It wasn't that Folsom was sloppy or careless. At least three of the turnovers were superb plays, starting with a leaping interception by Garrett that looked like a 40-yard touchdown pass from Kaiden Bennett
to impressive 6-foot-4 Clemson-bound reciever Joe Ngata.
That came on Folsom's first possession and it set the tone for the game.
"He came over a long way," Alumbaugh said. "I didn't think he could get there. I thought it was a touchdown."
After a scoreless first half, De La Salle needed just three plays to go 28 yards, capped by a 17-yard touchdown pass from Hale to Foskey, giving the Spartans a 7-0 lead with 8:19 left in the third quarter. The short field was set up by a nifty 22-yard punt return by Garrett.
Foskey, a 6-5, 240-pound senior, has 26 college offers, including USC, Clemson and Alabama.
"He was huge," Alumbaugh said. "That was maybe his best game as a Spartan."
Folsom had every opportunity to take a commanding first half lead, but four turnovers and four De La Salle sacks helped the game stay scoreless.
The Bulldogs, who had 251 yards of offense, got a bad break when their very impressive junior running back Daniyel Ngata
fumbled into the end zone late in the first half. It was recovered by the Spartans.
Photos and replays clearly showed that Ngata's knee was down at the 1 before the ball spewed out. The Spartans, who managed just 60 total yards and two first downs, then ran out the clock. They sprinted into halftime feeling very fortunate to be tied.
Folsom coach Kris Richardson didn't make a big issue of the blown call. As always, he was classy, and very encouraged even in defeat.
"We go in 7-0 (at the half), it's a big difference," Richardson told Sacramento Bee longtime reporter Joe Davidson. "But that wasn't the reason we lost. We didn't execute offensively. We didn't play to the best of our ability."
Daniyel Ngata was spectacular all night with 14 carries for 103 yards. He also had a 60-yard gain called back due to an illegal shift. Folsom's other big receiver threat Elijhah Badger
led all receivers with seven catches for 68 yards. Joe Ngata was limited to four catches for 40 yards, largely due to the play of Wallace.
They likely won't play against a defense quite as stout or prepared as the Spartans all year. Alumbaugh rattled off every member of the defense, but particularly the line play of Foskey, Beau Tagaloa
, Gunnar Rask
and Michael Puckett
. All four played both ways much of the night.
"Our secondary was great and linebackers super solid, but that line really did a job," Alumbaugh said.
Though frustrated his team didn't take advantage of good field position, particularly in the first half, Richardson was upbeat.
"I think we'll be fine," he told Davidson. "If we play defense like that all season, we'll win another state title."
Folsom is coming off their third state title, last season at the 1-AA level. De La Salle was coming off an 11-2 season, after losing convincingly to national champion Mater Dei (Santa Ana) in the state Open Division finals.
The teams had faced off twice before, both decisive De La Salle wins in 2012 and 2013 Northern California Open Division games. This was anything but decisive.
Next week, De La Salle hosts state small-school power Central Catholic (Modesto), while Folsom hosts the second-ranked team in the Sac-Joaquin Section, Jesuit (Carmichael).