SANTA ROSA — Two huge back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter carried the American Canyon High football team to a 20-10 win over Montgomery at Jason Franci Field on Friday night.
After a goal-line stand by the Wolves’ defense, a 99-yard halfback pass from Zeke Anderson to Justin Del Rosario with 9:03 left finally widened their tenuous 13-10 halftime lead.
“He ran a heck of a route,” Anderson said of Del Rosario, who finished with 106 yards on two catches for American Canyon (3-0). “(Quarterback) Vance Eschenburg tossed me the ball and I just got it to Justin. He made the play, basically.”
Wolves head coach John Montante credited both the defense and offense for the difference-making sequence.
“The defense has been playing well all year and they really stepped up when we needed them to,” he said. “For that halfback pass I have to credit our offensive coordinator, Rick Eaton. That was a helluva call.”
It was rematch of last year’s North Coast Section Division 2 playoff opener won by American Canyon, 43-29, and played at Santa Rosa High’s Nevers Field because Franci Field had just been deemed in need of new synthetic turf.
Montgomery (0-3) came out ready to protect its new turf, opening the scoring with 35-yard strike from Cole Hallin to Zo Martinez with 5:36 left in the first quarter. But the Wolves answered quickly with a 77-yard bomb from Eschenberg to Kaave Gaviola just a minute later that, with an Alex Llamas extra point, tied it at 7-7.
In the second quarter, Montgomery retook the lead on an 18-yard field goal by Reese Martin with 5:01 left. But once again, American Canyon answered.
Eschenburg scampered 68 yards, setting up a 1-yard scoring plunge by Anderson that gave American Canyon a lead it would not relinquish.
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“Starting out 3-0 is good for a program that began the year 0-4 last year,” stated Montante, but added, “We still haven’t played up to our potential for four quarters.”
Eschenburg led the Wolves’ rushers with 79 yards on seven carries, and added 101 yards through the air on five completions. Anderson’s long bomb gave American Canyon 200 yards passing in all.
Montante said he was looking forward to starting Vine Valley Athletic League play after finishing second last year.
“Last year all of the VVAL teams that made the playoffs won at least one game,” he noted. “I think our kids are up for the fight.”
American Canyon completes its non-conference schedule at 7 p.m. next Friday when it hosts Wood, leading the Wildcats 4-3 in their all-time series. Wood (1-2) won 42-24 at Deer Valley for its first win Friday night.
American Canyon JV 36, Montgomery 18
Croix Stewart had two touchdown catches and 120 receiving yards as the Wolves improved to 3-0 with Friday night’s victory.
Kapono Liu carried the ball 20 times for 119 yards and three scores and three two-point conversions.