Tonight we will have a live blog from Sacramento State University, site of the Sac-Joaquin Division II Championship between nationally ranked No. 8 Grant and No. 163 Folsom. 7:37 p.m.:
Folsom wins the toss and elects to receive.
We walked the sidelines an hour before the game and Folsom's Dano Graves is moving well. The brace on his right leg is more a formality, according to coaches. He's moving well and his passes have plenty of zip. He and the game's other superstar, Grant's Shaq Thompson both sustained game-threatening injuries last week - Graves his right knee and Thompson his right ankle. 7:39 p.m.:
The crowd is piling in at a rapid rate at Alex Spanos Sports Complex, which seats almost 22,000. They're expecting 15,000 and if there were note the three injuries - Grant's other two-way star Ference Lang also is questionable with an ankle injury - they might fill the stadium. 7:42:
Graves misses on his first attempt, completes his second but only for a yard and Folsom goes three-and-out. The punt snap skips to the punter who's punt is blocked, Grant takes over at the 30.
7:47: A 17-yard pass from Terry Shine to Lamar Sample went to the 11, but Grant gains only four years on three runs by Shine. Lang wasn't in the game and Thompson played decoy one play but didn't carry the ball. 7:48: GRANT 3, FOLSOM 0:
Charlie Vue boots a 24-yard field goal. FOLSOM 6, GRANT 3 (5:20 left in the first)
: Folsom strikes back on a beautiful 43-yard touchdown pass from Graves to Jordan Richards after converting a 4th-and-3 at its own 43. On that fourth-down play, Graves completed a 26-yard pass to Richards and on the very next play the two hooked up again. Both were down the right sideline where either Thompson or Lang would be playing. Nevertheless both throws were right on the money and Richards found separation.
The snap on the extra point was bad and the holder was buried. GRANT 6, FOLSOM 6 (3:42 Left in the first):
Shine fires a beautiful 65-yard bomb to Ronald Johnson, but Richards - this guy is everywhere - prevents a touchdown with a great driving tackle. That's huge because Grant manages just two yards on three plays and Vue kicks his second field goal, this time from 30 yards.
Without Lang or Thompson in the backfield, Grant doesn't have much of a running game.
* A 77-yard double reverse pass from backup quarterback Tanner Trosin to Richards - this guy has done everything - puts the ball at the 10, but after a 3-yard run by Graves and two incompletions, Folsom curiously goes for it on fourth down down from the 7. Another incompletion gives Grant the ball back. END OF THE FIRST QUARTERFOLSOM 13, GRANT 6:
Graves fires a 30-yard touchdown pass to Kori Babineaux, who catches the ball over the middle at the 15, evades a tackle and rambles into the end zone. Babineaux, a 6-3, 205-pound specimen, is a Division I prospect who has given up basketball to focus on football. Once again, the absence of Thompson and Lang is critical. GRANT 13, FOLSOM 13 (9:02 left in half):
We have a Thompson sighting. Oh, do we have a sighting. Evidently, Grant coach Mike Alberghini has seen enough and inserted Thompson into the fray. The 6-1, 195-pound specimen broke through the right side for a 54-yard gain, setting up a beautiful 25-yard touchdown pass from Shine to - guess who? - Thomspson. Three defenders were around Thompson, yet Shine absolutely dropped the pass in the only spot it could be completed. What a game already!
* The late-arriving crowd is really piling in. We're closing in on 18,000 or 19,000. Fantastic venue. Great action thus far. Neither defense can stop the other's offense.
* Folsom drives right back down field and again on fourth down - 4th and 4 from the Grant 14 - Graves scrambles to what to open territory but Puka Lopa, a remarkable 6-2, 245-pound lineman who 19 sacks, chased him down 1-yard short of the first down. Folsom has decided not to go for two chip-shot field goals - and we hear Dillon Wessing, a linebacker and kicker, is more than capable - and twice its come away empty. FOLSOM 20, GRANT 13 (19 seconds left in half):
A superlative half is finished off with a spectacular 5-yard TD pass from Graves to Tyler Trosin, who made a leaping catch, was hit low and flipped almost almost in half. Graves was brilliant while going 74 yards in 10 plays. Two more completions to Richards (8 catches, 194 yards - in the first half!) for 39 yards keyed the drive. END OF THE FIRST HALFImpressions:
Obviously Grant misses Lang and Thompson isn't 100 percent, but clearly Folsom has made up some serious ground in three months. Remember, Grant absolutely thumped the Bulldogs in August. ... Folsom looks extremely confident and even though coach Kris Richardson's philosophy to go for it on fourth down has paid off only once in four tries - that one time was key, a 26-yard completion to Richards who promptly scored on the next play. ... What Thompson - and even Lang - has been to Grant all season, Richards was to Folsom in the first half. Besides his eight catches for 194 yards and a touchdowns, he's also been very noticeable on defense. ... Grant's highly-touted defensive lineman Villiami Moala (6-3, 340) has been a non-factor.Numbers:
Graves is 16 of 27 for 224 yards and three touchdowns. ... Besides Richards' huge half, Tyler Trosin has 6 catches for 65 yards. ... Folsom has a remarkable 301 yards passing. ... Total yards: Folsom 322, Grant 185. ... Thompson has five carries for 73 yards and one catch for 25 yards. .... Shine has completed 3 of 4 for 107 yards and one TD. THIRD QUARTER
* Grant gains nine yards on its first possession and on fourth down goes from it, but Thompson is dropped for a 1-yad loss, giving Folsom a first down at the Grant 41. FOLSOM 27, GRANT 13 (7:11 left in third):
Graves looks like a national Player of the Year candidate after completing his fourth touchdown pass, a 5-yarder to Tyler Trosin. Graves has throw for 268 yards so far. FOLSOM 34, GRANT 13 (5:16 left in third):
Wow. Graves is now officially in the national POY conversation. He just scampered around the left end, somehow evaded a couple tacklers and then outran a fleet Grant secondary on a brilliant 64-yard TD run. Stunning. This one looks over. Grant must score on its next possession. FOLSOM 34, GRANT 20 (1:39 left in third):
Shine responds. He converts a key third down play, then completes a critical 36-yard touchdown bomb to Johnson, who somehow got behind the secondary. Grant needs a stop. END OF THIRD QUARTER
* Grant gets interception by Trayvon Henderson, and gets a couple first downs but Folsom holds on downs with 8:03 left. Richards is at it again, throwing Thompson for a 5-yard loss on 3rd-and-3.
* Remarkably, at its own 29, Folsom goes for it on 4th-and-2 and gets it on another completions to Richards for five yards. Incredibly gutsy call - would have given Grant a short field if it doesn't get it. But that's been Folsom's mindset from the get-go - go for the jugular. Richards now has 10 catches for 207 yards and 11 tackles.
* After Graves throws an interception - why they are passing with 4:42 left is downright reckless - its Richards to the rescue again. He picks off a Shine pass to finish off one of the most impressive individual performances in SJS championship-game history. There's 3:44 remaining. FOLSOM 41, GRANT 20:
Graves finishes it off poetically with a 25-yard TD keeper. Remarkable. He's finished with 24 carries for 129yards and two scores and he's thrown for 289 yards and four more scores. That's a final. What a turnaround. A 56-point turnaround. PREGAME2:42 p.m.:
With just under five hours away from kickoff, here are predictions from MaxPreps staff writers and contributors Mitch Stephens, Steve Montoya, Stephen Spiewak, Kevin Askeland, Jamie DeMoney and by the MaxPreps computer rankings:Game predictions:Folsom (Folsom, Calif.)
vs. Grant (Sacramento, Calif.)
The CIF Division II Sac-Joaquin Section championship game is also a rematch. These teams met in an August season-opener, which nationally ranked Grant won by the much wider-than-expected margin of 49-14. In order for Folsom (12-1) to reverse that outcome, it will likely need another big game from quarterback Dano Graves. The senior has nearly 3,200 passing yards and 55 touchdowns this season, but will be less than 100 percent after straining knee ligaments during a 55-20 win over Buhach Colony last week. Video of Dano Graves
Grant, 13-0 and ranked No. 8 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25, has injury concerns of its own. Junior Shaq Thompson – who leads the team with more than 1,700 rushing yards and is the Pacers' top defensive back – sprained his ankle in a 20-11 win over St. Mary's (Stockton) last week. Expect plenty of scoring in this one. Both teams are averaging more than 50 points per game this season. Click here to view MaxPreps' California football playoff bracketsMitch Stephens
: Grant 22, Folsom 21Steve Montoya
: Grant 27, Folsom 20Stephen Spiewak
: Grant 28, Folsom 17Kevin Askeland
: Grant 40, Folsom 20Jamie DeMoney
: Grant 37, Folsom 30MaxPreps Projection
: Grant 35, Folsom 28 2:30 p.m.:
Who is more valuable: Grant's Shaq Thompson or Folsom's Dano Graves? Here's the article from Wednesday.