Trojans stumble in opener, fall to Rocklin in high-scoring affair

By: Jim Ratajczak
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When a team’s first big play of the evening is a facemask penalty, you know it might be in for a long night. Such was the case for the Oak Ridge High Trojans varsity football team, which christened their new field Friday night with a loss to the Rocklin Thunder, 40-32. The final score was not indicative of the play of the Trojans, though, because at no point in the game did the team appear able to take advantage of any Thunder blunder. Thunder quarterback Jimmy Laughrea set his team’s tempo for the rest of the night by getting Rocklin on the board 6-0 in the first quarter on a mostly effortless drive, culminating in a handoff to running back Jackson Cummings for the touchdown. Laughrea wreaked havoc on the Trojan defense most of the evening, pitching, passing and scrambling for touchdowns all night long. Trojan quarterback Connor Benander was unable to mirror Laughrea’s success, looking shaky on most of his passes and taking big hits from the Thunder defense. Benander did score two touchdowns on short runs and also threw a touchdown pass to tight end Nick Buerki. But despite the team’s sloppy offensive opening, Oak Ridge only trailed 20-17 at halftime, courtesy of a late field goal by Robbie Beyer. The Trojans benefited from a spirited performance from running back Jordan Matanane, who was the catalyst for the majority of his team’s drives and also scored a touchdown. In the third, however, the Trojan wheels fell off in part because of numerous penalties, many of which kept Thunder drives alive. With 6:29 in the third, Laughrea hooked up with wide receiver Holden Huff for a touchdown pass, giving his squad a 26-17 lead -- a lead they would not relinquish. Oak Ridge was able to muster a few big plays in the final two quarters, but none were enough to spark the team back to life. The Thunder would strike right back in a matter of minutes time and time again. The Trojans hope to turn things around next Friday when they tackle the Folsom Bulldogs. It wasn’t all bad news for Oak Ridge Friday night, though, as the JV squad locked down a 24-6 victory.