Del Oro (Loomis)
running back Dylan Kainrath
took his first handoff, barreled over three Serra (San Mateo)
defenders and rambled into the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown.
It set the tone and affirmed the reputation of the rough and tough Golden Eagles, who traveled 144 miles to earn a 28-20 win in the Division I CIF State Regional Football Championship Bowl Game at San Jose City College Friday night.
Kainrath, a punishing 6-foot, 180-pound senior known more as a wrestler than a football standout, finished with 29 carries for 209 yards, Michael Moore
added two touchdown passes and Trey Udoffia
returned a punt 38 yards for another score as Del Oro (13-2) earned its second trip to a state bowl game in three seasons.
Del Oro will face Bakersfield, a 35-28 winner over Mission Hills (San Marcos).
Serra, which got 201 yards passing and a rushing touchdown from senior quarterback Matthew Fa'aita
, finished 11-3.
"Our defense really locked down and made some great plays," Del Oro coach Casey Taylor said. "We just play hard. It's what we do."
Especially Kainrath, who has fought injuries all season and a heavy workload. He had 54 carries for 244 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-28 win over Granite Bay earlier in the season.
"He's been banged up, hurt all year, but he's one of the toughest guys I've ever coached," Taylor said. "We beat a great team. I'm really proud of the guys."
Especially Tanner Woods
, a 6-1, 250-pound senior who played on the 2011 state bowl team. The third-year starter had four of the team's five sacks. The Golden Eagles contained Fa'aita the second half, when the Padres managed just two field goals.
After Kainrath's opening touchdown, Serra came right back, converting a fourth-and-3 from its own 41 as part of a 10-play, 67-yard drive capped by a 9-yard touchdown run by Fa'aita.
The Padres had Del Oro pinned down to the 1 after a 40-yard punt by Steven Bodley
, but Kainrath broke loose for a 77-yard run to set up a 22-yard scoring pass from Moore to 6-3, 205-pound tight end Tyler Meteer
(7 catches, 84 yards).
Moore was flushed out of the pocket, but fired a perfect strike to Meteer, who pulled the ball away from West Catholic Athletic League co-Player of the Year Hamilton Anoa'i
. That gave Del Oro a 14-7 lead with 9:52 left in the second quarter.
Meteer is also a three-year starter for the Golden Eagles, who fought back from a 19-0 fourth-quarter deficit to beat Elk Grove 20-19 last week.
"The 99-yard drive was a turning point and that was the difference," Serra coach Patrick Walsh said.Kelepi Lataimua
tied it at 14 with 4:41 left it in the half on a 4-yard run, but Del Oro once again responded with an 80-yard drive, capped with a 4-yard scoring pass from Moore to Therin Heryford
with 3.6 seconds left in the half. Again the receiver snagged the ball away from Anoa'i. That made it 21-14 at halftime.
After Heryford's punt return made it 28-14 with 6:41 left in the third, Serra got two field goals from Bodley of 29 and 33 yards.
"Getting only field goals in the red zone twice hurt us bad," Walsh said.
So did 12 penalties for 110 yards, many at crucial points. Del Oro had four penalties for 20 yards.
"We have a resilient group of guys, but at the end of the day, we made too many mistakes to win the game," Walsh said.