The rain-soaked field did little to help third-seeded Sierra slow down No. 6 Inderkum’s powerful wing-T offense Friday at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium.
The visiting Tigers piled up 509 rushing yards and had three running backs each scamper for over 130 yards in a 69-47 victory that sends them to the semifinal round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
Inderkum (10-2) will head to Folsom next week and face No. 2 Vista del Lago (11-1), which needed 21 points in a fourth-quarter comeback to knock off 10th-seeded El Camino, 35-31.
It was the backfield triumvirate of the elusive Josh Montes (21 rushes, 139 yards, 2 TDs), plowing fullback Brandon Powell (20 rushes, 177 yards, 4 TDs) and Terrence White (17 rushes, 192 yards, 4 TDs), with his blend of power and breakaway speed, that anchored the Tigers.
“You’ve gotta give props to what they did, they ran the ball down our throat,” Sierra coach Jeff Harbison said. “I have a lot of respect for them. Overall, it was a great season — to finish 10-2, you can’t sneeze at that. I’m proud of the effort these kids gave all year.”
Inderkum’s backfield trio outshined Sierra star Anthony Cota, who came into the contest with 1,876 yards and 36 rushing touchdowns. On Friday, he had just three carries go for more than 10 yards, and none longer than 13. He ended up with 97 yards and two scores on 20 attempts.
Cota was effective in the passing game, though not so much as a receiver. His two touchdowns passes — a 40-yarder to Dakota Conners (8 receptions, 91 yards) and a 9-yard toss to Garrett DeVillanueva — in the third quarter kept the Timberwolves within reach.
“We were hanging with them,” Cota said. “It wasn’t a blowout, we had our chances. It was just costly mistakes that hurt us.”
Sierra’s four turnovers in the second half kept it from keeping up in the track meet.
Cota’s scoring toss to Conners closed Sierra in 34-27 with 10:26 left in the third quarter, and the defense forced Inderkum to punt for the first and only time of the night. On the Timberwolves’ first play back on offense, Cota fumbled inside the Sierra 10, and Montes scored from 9 yards out on the next sequence to expand Inderkum’s lead, 41-27.
The momentum continued to swing in Inderkum’s favor, as Sierra quarterback Jake Pruitt (15 of 27, 166 yards, TD; 41-yard rushing TD) threw the first of his two interceptions on the next play from scrimmage. White’s 30-yard dash to the end zone just three plays later made it 47-27.
The Tigers again made Sierra pay for two more giveaways, one being another Cota fumble, in the fourth quarter.
“No doubt, the turnovers changed the game,” Inderkum coach Terry Stark said. “Neither team stopped the other. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We’d kind of slow them down a little bit and then fall asleep and give up some big plays. Ours were more methodical drives down the field.
“We made mistakes on defense, but they’ve got a good team that exposed our weaknesses.”