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Folsom scores two late touchdowns to beat Oak Ridge, 35-31

By: Matt Long/Telegraph Sports Editor
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For nearly every game that Folsom High’s football team has won this season, when they needed a defensive stop or a touchdown, they got it. That was the case Friday night in the regular-season finale against Oak Ridge, when the Bulldogs came from behind to win 35-31. Folsom struggled for most of the night, never seemingly putting its game together against an upset-minded Oak Ridge team that is far better than its 6-4 record. The Trojans had the 8-2 Bulldogs on their heels, leading 31-21 with 7:24 to play, until Folsom did what they needed to do to get the win, scoring two touchdowns in a 1:15 and playing solid defense the rest of the game. Folsom quickly moved the ball from their own 43 to the Oak Ridge 11 on four pass plays before Tanner Trosin threw a shuffle pass to Troy Knox, who scampered 11 yards for a touchdown with 6:09 remaining to cut the lead to 31-28. After the defense held Oak Ridge to a three-and-out and forced a punt, Trosin hooked up with J’Juan Muldrow for a short screen pass and Muldrow ran 44 yards for a touchdown to put the Bulldogs on top for good with 4:54 to play. Folsom forced another Trojan punt with 3:55 to play and then ran the clock out to secure the win. “We knew Oak Ridge was a good team and that they had beaten some good teams,” Folsom coach Kris Richardson said. “They had a sophomore quarterback step up tonight and play a good game and Dylan Collie is a heck of a player and Preston Dean is a stud. We didn’t help ourselves tonight, though. We didn’t execute and threw some picks, but we were strong when we needed to be.” Oak Ridge, coming off a four-interception game against Jesuit, added four more against Trosin, three by Bobby Gatta. Folsom’s quarterback admitted that it wasn’t his best game. “It wasn’t my best performance, as I kept making mistakes,” Trosin said. “We also had some dropped balls and I think our mental focus wasn’t there. I know there were a few plays when I wasn’t there, but I know the feeling and what it takes to come back when we’re down and we were able to come back and get the win.” With the Bulldogs’ backs to the wall, Trosin and Muldrow, the two offensive stars who rarely play defense, played defensive back late in the game and both broke up passes intended for Collie that helped preserve the win. The Trojans played a superb game in the loss, as they led a majority of the way thanks to an opportunistic defense and solid performance out of sophomore quarterback Dylan Sipes. After his first two passes were way off target, Sipes played with confidence and poise, throwing a pair of touchdown passes to Collie and helping lead the team to a near upset over Folsom. “This week was exciting and I was nervous at first, but the team made me feel comfortable and that made me confident,” Sipes said. “For my first varsity start, I thought I played well, but I’ve got to improve.” Sipes’ second touchdown pass to Collie, coming on fourth-and-one from the eight-yard line with 5:06 to play in the third quarter, gave the Trojans a 24-14 lead. Folsom cut the lead to three with a three-yard run from Trosin three minutes later. After forcing Oak Ridge to punt, Folsom had the ball on the Oak Ridge 16 when Trosin’s pass tipped off the hands of Phillip Carter and into the hands of Gatta, who raced 85 yards down the sideline for the score that gave the Trojans another 10-point lead, 31-21, with 10:57 to play. The Bulldogs again moved the ball down the field on their next possession, but this drive ended in another interception by Gatta, this time in the end zone. “Ben Sweet broke up the pass and the ball popped up in the air and I just dove for it and got it,” Gatta said. At this point with a 10-point lead and all the momentum, the Trojans were clearly in control, but Folsom stepped up and fought its way to victory. “There are no excuses,” Cavaliere said. “We’re a good football team and we believed we could win and gave it a good shot. They’re an excellent football team, but so are we. The big thing tonight was that we improved. We didn’t get the win that we were looking for, but we improved as a team and that’s what you want to do at this time of year.” Oak Ridge JV rolls over Bulldogs In what figured to be a competitive game turned out to be a blowout, as the Trojans earned the Delta River League championship with a 37-8 win over the Bulldogs. Josh Wellman ran for three touchdowns in the first half and caught a touchdown pass from Victor Bunce in the second as the Trojans rolled to the win. Tanner Hughes intercepted a pass and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown, while Austin Clarke also recorded a safety for the Trojans. Folsom’s only score came late on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Whitfield to Dean Wightman, who also combined for the two-point conversion. “I’m so proud of this team,” Oak Ridge coach Ron Short said. “We played with confidence, grace and just an all-out effort against a very good team.” Oak Ridge finished the year 5-0 in league and 8-2 overall, while Folsom was 3-2 in league and 7-3 overall.