Behind a season-high 268 yards on the ground the Sonoma Dragons defeated the visiting American Canyon Wolves 42-28 Friday night at Arnold Field.
The win improves the Dragons record to 2-1, and surpasses last season’s win total with seven games remaining including tomorrow night’s final pre-season contest in Santa Rosa against perennial doormat Elsie Allen.
The Lobos are 0-3, winless since 2008 and have been outscored 113-30 so far this season.
The Dragons took the lead on the opening kickoff against American Canyon and never trailed in the contest while putting forth their highest point total in over five years.
The Wolves muffed Chris Swanson’s opening kickoff and committed a penalty in the end zone trying to block on the play that resulted in a safety and a 2-0 Dragons lead just 10 seconds into the game.
Following the safety, the Dragons marched 34 yards and scored on a Sam Morgan one-yard run to go ahead 9-0. A key play on the drive came on a third-and-25 when Morgan connected with sophomore Dan Deely in the left flat and Deely broke six Wolves tackles to pick up 31 yards and a first down to prolong the possession.
Deely excelled all evening, finishing with 144 rushing yards (and two touchdowns) and 56 receiving yards as well as playing a solid game on defense.
American Canyon answered with a touchdown drive midway through the opening quarter to cut the Sonoma lead to 9-6, but the Dragons responded with a 56-yard drive to go ahead 16-6, capped by a 16-yard dash by Deely to open the second quarter.
The Wolves converted a fourth-down on their ensuing possession and finished their drive with a powerful eight-yard run by Charles Spencer to cut the lead to two at 16-14.
Taking advantage of two big plays, the Dragons put together a “Thunder and Lightning” drive of 70 yards when Deely (“Thunder”) ran for 42 yards and Colin Clyde (Lightning”) ripped through the middle of the defense for 28 yards to stretch the lead to 23-14. Clyde stayed on his feet despite being hit twice on his way to the end zone by prospective tacklers.
After an early third quarter touchdown pass from Morgan to Swanson increased the margin to 30-14, the Dragons looked poised to blow the game open, but back-to-back long pass plays that accounted for 161 yards for the visitors again cut the margin to two points at 30-28. A failed two-point try following the second long touchdown prevented American Canyon from tying the score.
While the American Canyon passing game lacked imagination, it was effective, racking up 247 yards on plays that mostly resembled quarterback Justin Corpus taking a short drop and flinging the ball as far as he could down the sideline.
The Dragons were forced to punt on their next two possessions, and barely averted disaster when a strong pass rush almost led to a turnover deep in Sonoma territory in the closing moments of the third quarter.
Clutch fourth quarter interceptions by senior Eric Clouse and junior Dustin Sloane helped hold the Wolves scoreless in the decisive fourth quarter and 118 yards of rushing in the final period powered by Deely and Clyde helped seal the victory. Morgan attempted only one pass in the fourth quarter, and it went for a nine yard score to Swanson to put Sonoma up 36-28.
Following the Clouse interception, four successive runs by Deely accounting for 36 yards and a 23-yard touchdown put the Dragons ahead 42-28.
The Dragon defense sacked Corpus three straight times to preserve the win.