Jesuit defensive back Damario Keyes appears to have an interception of a Brandon Rundren pass in the end zone (circle shows the ball), but Franklin wide receiver Nathan Newton falls on him (left photo), and strips the ball away (center photo), somersaults and looks to have a touchdown. Officials called an incomplete pass on the play even though the photo shows the ball never touched the ground. (Photo by John Hull)
The game was - almost - for the Delta League championship in football. That’s how Franklin head coach Mike Johnson looked at his team’s Saturday match-up at Jesuit.
“That was a league championship game and league championship football games feel like that,” he said. “I’m not discounting Sheldon, but for us, it was for a chance at a co-championship.”
But, the breaks a team would need to win these kinds of games just didn’t materialize for Johnson and his boys. A touchdown called back due to a mystery “pick play” that officials claim they witnessed and two other catches in the end zone by Wildcat receivers which were ruled as incomplete passes laid a foundation of disappointment for Franklin and that led to a 17-7 loss to Jesuit Saturday at Hanson McClain Advisors Stadium.
“That’s hard to swallow because I am walking out of here honestly believing we were the better football team today,” Johnson said. “The entire day we were the aggressor.”
Had Franklin pulled out that win on the road we’d all be looking at three teams on top the Delta standings with 4-1 records. Instead Jesuit is in first place with a 5-0 mark, followed by Sheldon at 4-1, after sneaking out of Grant with police protection because of a 30-27 last second win and a bunch of hoodlums threatening the Huskies.
The Wildcats are in third place, tied with Monterey Trail with 3-2 marks.
“We’ve already clinched postseason with our six wins,” Johnson said.
The Wildcats broke its post-game huddle Saturday with a loud, “Beat the Herd.” Johnson was trying to get his guys immediately looking ahead to this Friday’s Senior Night game against rival Elk Grove, now 3-2 in the Delta after a 48-7 whitewashing at the hands of Monterey Trail.
“We know they are going to be monster-killers,” he said. “I guarantee Elk Grove is looking to come in and screw up our Senior Night.”
After Friday’s home game with the Herd, the Wildcats will finish out at Pleasant Grove, who won its first Delta game of the year, 57-56 in overtime at Davis.
“Those two teams are playing for respect,” Johnson said. “They are playing for that good feeling at the end of the year. We won’t over look them.”
TD called back; 2 TD receptions called incomplete passes
Nearing the end of the first quarter, Brandon Rundgren rolled to his right and found Jalen Lampley on a crossing route and he sprinted untouched for a TD, but two penalty flags were thrown on the play calling an offensive pass interference penalty on Franklin.
“We had (a touchdown) called back on some random pick call, which we don’t ever get,” Johnson said.
The penalty put the ball back on the Jesuit 20 as the quarter ended. A missed field goal shot this opportunity for points in the foot.
Then, twice passes to the end zone appeared to be Franklin TD receptions, but both times, the officials ruled incomplete passes. The first one was a pass that Lampley dove for and appeared to make a sensational catch, but officials claimed the pass hit the ground first.
On the first play of the final period at the Jesuit 17, Rundgren lofted a ball down the right sidelines for Nathan Newton. Jesuit cornerback Damario Keyes ran under the ball and fell down to the turf in his own end zone with Newton rolling over him. Newton somersaulted and had the football, but officials ruled an incomplete pass, claiming the ball hit the ground.
Instead of a possible 14-14 ties, the Marauders responded with a drive that resulted in Andrew Tilton’s 30-yard field goal to give them a 17-7 advantage.
The Wildcats drove into Jesuit territory, again, but this time Rundgren’s pass intended for Newton was picked off by Devin Flores at the three-yard line with just over three minutes remaining. The Marauders sealed the win by burning off the remainder of the clock.