Pintos dominate second half; defeat Pioneers 21-12

California's Jason Wolverton (44) extends a hand to congratulate teammate Logan Rowles (25) on his touchdown with 10:49 remaining in the Class 3 Quarterfinal game against Duchesne Saturday at Riley Field. Rowles' TD gave the Pintos their first lead of the game. Rushing in to give Rowles an "attaboy" are Dylan Albertson (5), Jaden Barr (15), and Curtis Fulks (54). California went on to defeat the Pioneers 21-12 to advance to Class 3 Semifinals at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Maryville.

California's Jason Wolverton (44) extends a hand to congratulate teammate Logan Rowles (25) on his touchdown with 10:49 remaining in the Class 3 Quarterfinal game against Duchesne Saturday at Riley Field. Rowles' TD gave the Pintos their first lead of the game. Rushing in to give Rowles an "attaboy" are Dylan Albertson (5), Jaden Barr (15), and Curtis Fulks (54). California went on to defeat the Pioneers 21-12 to advance to Class 3 Semifinals at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Maryville.

Saturday's Class 3 Quarterfinal game against Duchesne proved to be a big test for the Pintos. But after a first half that had California trailing 12-7, the Pintos came out more driven in the second half to pass the test with flying colors and defeat the Pioneers 21-12.

California's 18-play, 91-yard drive that started with 6:23 left in the third quarter and ended with 10:49 remaining in the fourth proved key to the win, and the possession was capped with a 2-yard touchdown by senior Logan Rowles, followed by a two-point conversion scored on a pass from Jaden Barr to Jerry Lutz to give the Pintos their first lead of the game, 15-12.

"That drive made the difference," California Coach Marty Albertson said. "We were against the wind, so we went to the ground and it imposed our will on them."

Albertson added, "We didn't play the best first half and only scored one TD. At halftime, I told the boys we had to win the third quarter, then we would have the wind behind us in the fourth. I'm proud of how the kids played in the second half. They showed a lot of courage and heart and shut Duchesne out on defense."

Also looming over the Pintos was the absence of key running back Anthony Price, who was injured during California's district championship game against Centralia.

Prior to Saturday's game against Duchesne, senior Garret Baquet said, "I feel good about the game against Duchesne. We have a lot of experience playing teams that run the spread offense. It's big to lose Anthony because he's capable of big plays, so it's going to be hard to replace him, but we can do it."

Price said, "Being injured and not getting to play is a little depressing. But I know our team is going to carry the torch."

California ended up with nine ball carriers, including Rowles, in his debut at running back, where he shined.

Saturday's quarterfinal game started off with both teams going three and out on their first possession. Then the Pioneers scored on their next drive with a 16-yard TD pass from Clay Stulce to Nate Friedel. After Chad Sims' kick for the point after, Duchesne led 7-0 with 2:55 left in the first quarter.

California's next possession ended with a 39-yard TD pass from Barr to Baquet. Efrain Torres nailed the PAT kick and the score was even at 7-7 with 38 seconds left in the first quarter.

With 6:19 left in the first half, Duchesne's Chad Sams kicked a 34-yard field goal to put the Pioneers in front 10-7. Then a Pinto fumble resulted in a safety for Duchesne with 2:15 left in the second quarter, and the Pioneers led 12-7.

The second half was a different game for California, as the Pintos went to the ground with the 18-play drive of 91 yards capped with a 2-yard TD by Rowles. Barr hit Lutz with a pass for the two-point conversion, and California led 15-12.

Duchesne's next possession was cut short when Rowles intercepted Stulce's pass. The Pintos ensued with a 5-play drive that resulted in a 6-yard TD by Rowles. The PAT kick missed, but California led 21-12 with 5:46 left to play.

The Pioneers' next drive ended when California's Dylan Albertson intercepted Stulce's pass. Duchesne's final drive of the game consisted of 12 plays and only 13 yards as the Pinto defense proved solid as ever.

"I couldn't be prouder of these kids," Albertson said."

California had 48 carries for 188 yards and Barr completed 2 of 6 passes for 47 yards.

Duchesne had 38 carries for 89 yards and Stulce completed 7 of 17 passes for 49 yards. Stulce threw two interceptions, one caught by Albertson, and one by Rowles.

Albertson led Pinto rushing with 13 carries for 57 yards. Luke Burger followed with eight carries for 40 yards. Baquet had seven for 28 yards and Rowles had four for 10 yards and two TDs.

Baquet had one reception for 39 yards and Albertson had one for eight.

Rowles led tackles with 12 and one interception. (Rowles led tackles in California's previous game against Centralia with 17.) Luke Burger also had 12 tackles. Lutz and Scott Porter each had 11 tackles. Albertson had seven and one interception. Ramiro Garcia and Curtis Fulks each had five tackles.

California advances to Class 3 Semifinals where the Pintos (13-0) will face Maryville (13-0) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Maryville.

"Maryville has been rated #2 in the state all year," Albertson said. "They are the real deal. Very skilled and big up front. It will be a big task for us but I believe in our kids and they play with a lot of heart. I think we'll bring our A game."

Albertson added, "You know, our kids, if they win or lose Saturday, they've had a fantastic year and I'm extremely proud of them. We're down to four teams now. There are no losers, only winners."

The Pinto Pride Marching Band will perform with Maryville's band at halftime.

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