SONORA — The final horn signaled a historic moment for Sierra.
Head coach Jeff Harbison had other things in mind.
“Where’s my sweater?” he hollered while following his players to the 50-yard line.
It wasn’t an ideal time to be doused by a jug full of sports drink on this chilly night in the Mother Lode, but minutes later Harbison didn’t seem to mind. That is because for the first time in school history his Timberwolves defeated Sonora at venerable Dunlavy Field, where future Sierra players may never get to step foot.
Sierra delivered a 45-26 blow to winless Sonora’s postseason hopes Friday. Starting next year, the Wildcats — one of the Valley Oak League’s charter members — is moving to the Mother Lode League.
“This is something the kids talked about going into the season, was creating some firsts and this was (highlighted) on the calendar,” Harbison said. “They came out and produced tonight.”
Produce they did.
Quarterback Jake Pruitt had a hand in all six of Sierra’s touchdown plays. He racked up 492 yards and five TDs on 27-of-41 passing and ran in a score on a 1-yard keeper.
His big-play receiver for the night was Lucas Widmer, who picked up much of his 219 yards after the catch and scored on plays spanning 71, 53 and 63 yards. All of his six receptions came in the first half, when Sierra led 30-6.
Bryson Sanders (11 receptions, 130 yards), Hunter Johnson (91 yards, TD) and Devin Nunez (26 yards, TD) were also involved in the offense. Nunez came up huge on defense as well, picking off the last of his three interceptions on Sonora’s final play. The Sierra defense forced six turnovers, with DeVonte Reese (2 fumble recoveries) and Garrett DeVillanueva (interception) also getting in on the action.
One area of concern for Harbison was the running game. The Timberwolves (2-0 VOL, 4-1 overall) were held to minus-12 rushing yards in the first half and ended up with 51. Anthony Cervantez grinded out 46 yards on eight attempts.
“Our receivers were phenomenal after the catch and Jake was putting the ball on the money,” Harbison said. “We did not run the ball very well, and we’ll address that in practice this week.”
Sierra was in control for the most part but had some nervous moments in the third quarter when Sonora scored 14 unanswered points while limiting the Timberwolves to one first down and just nine plays from scrimmage. K.C. Brandsted (26 rushes, 91 yards) scored both TDs on 3-yard scampers for Sonora, the second of which closed the Wildcats in 30-20.
One risky decision helped Sonora get back into the game. Facing fourth and 6 from its own 44, Sierra opted to try and extend the drive. Pruitt hit Sanders in the hands down the right sideline, but the receiver could not catch it cleanly.
“Sonora’s offense can score on anybody at any time, and we wanted to have as big a buffer as we could,” Harbison said. “We were going with the momentum, which worked for us once (in the second quarter) but it unfortunately didn’t the second time. We had the right play, Jake threw a perfect pass and the ball just bounced out of our receiver’s hands.”
Sierra answered with a seven-play, 78-yard drive capped by Nunez’s 11-yard catch 14 seconds into the fourth quarter. Nothing was going to deny the Timberwolves of this benchmark victory.
“Knowing that this was going to be the last time at Dunlavy Field, the guys really wanted this,” Harbison said.