The name of the game was “Flag on the Play.”
In a penalty-ridden football game that had both teams walking back and forth all night, American Canyon High School bore the grunt of the penalties — 17 for 162 yards — as host Vallejo handed the Wolves their first loss of the season, 33-28, on Friday night in their Solano County Athletic Conference opener.
Wolves head coach Ian MacMillan said that his team got too emotional against their neighbors, as most of the penalties were personal fouls. The team was also plagued by turnovers and a slow start following the bye week.
“We just got a little emotional and it cost us,” MacMillan said. “Those penalties hurt us. We haven’t dealt with adversity and being down, and it’s a learning experience.”
The Wolves (5-1 overall, 0-1 SCAC) looked fresh off the bye week when, on their opening drive, junior Jomon Dotson ran the ball in from 28 yards to put his team on the board. Junior Michael Rapacon’s kick was good and American Canyon led 7-0. The game looked poised to go much as American Canyon’s five previous routs had gone.
But the lead wasn’t preserved for long — not even a few plays — as Vallejo senior Isaac Calvin set off on an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, evening the score just as quickly as Dotson had separated it.
On the ensuing drive, American Canyon forced Vallejo to punt, but a roughing-the-kicker call gave the Apaches the ball back with a first down at the Wolves’ 30-yard line. Vallejo (1-5 overall, 1-0 SCAC) drove to the 20 as the first quarter winded down, and eventually scored via a 1-yard quarterback keeper from junior Danani Dillahunty. The kick was blocked and the Apaches took the 13-7 lead.
For the first time this season, American Canyon found itself trailing its opponent — not for long though. American Canyon got the ball at the two-minute drill, and Dotson broke free on a 54-yard run to take back a one-point lead as the half expired.
On Vallejo’s second drive of the third, the Apaches scored on an almost identical play when Jueit Davis ran the ball in from 53 yards. Anthony Budil ran in the two-point conversion to put his team back ahead, 21-14.
A few drives later, American Canyon senior Troy Wallace recovered a Vallejo fumble. But on the ensuing drive, Wolf senior quarterback Justin Corpus was sacked and fumbled as Vallejo took back over at its own 30. Corpus left the game with an injury — likely a broken arm that could sideline him for the rest of the season.
At the start of the fourth the Apaches drove down and attempted a field goal from 14 yards out, but it hardly got off the ground. On American Canyon’s next drive, Dotson was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct and the Wolves were forced to attempt a comeback without their quarterback and star running back.
Two plays later, Vallejo’s Dillahunty intercepted Rapacon — who had stepped in for Corpus — for a 18-yard score, extending the lead to 27-14.
Just when the Wolves needed it most, senior Chris Seisay came to the rescue, catching a pass from Rapacon and taking it to the end zone for an 83-yard score that boosted his team’s spirits. The kick was good and the Wolves were down by a touchdown with 8:36 left in the game.
On a third and 7, Malik Beachum broke up a pass to the end zone, but a pass interference call gave Vallejo a first down at 12. On the next play, Budil ran it in for the score. The conversion failed and Vallejo led 33-21.
At the two-minute drill, Seisay faked a punt and brought the ball all the way to Vallejo’s 39 before a penalty brought the Wolves to the 32.
At the 1:46 mark, Rapacon connected with Beachum in the end zone on a beauty of a play that totaled 68 yards. With the kick, American Canyon trailed just five points, but the Apaches wouldn’t allow them to get the ball back.
Dotson totaled 16 carries for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Seisay’s only catch of the game was for the 83-yard score and Beachum had two catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. Corpus was 1 for 3 passing for 18 yards. Rapacon was 2 for 5 passing for 152 yards a touchdown and an interception.