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Bullfrogs run wild in 61-19 thumping of Gustine

BRET HARTE SENIOR TAILBACK Justice Rasmussen leaps into the endzone capping off an 18-yard score on Friday night in Angels Camp. Rasmussen scored five rushing touchdowns which tied the all-time school record set by Jesse Green (class of 2008). Bret Harte won 61-19. MAGGIE BECK/UNION DEMOCRAT
Bret Harte senior tailback Justice Rasmussen rushed for five touchdowns, tying an all-time school record, and the host Bullfrogs annihilated Gustine 61-19 on Friday night.
   “Justice was insane out there on that football field tonight,” said Bullfrog sophomore right tackle Jared Taylor. “It is an honor to block for Justice Rasmussen.”
    “It was an incredible feeling watching Justice run,” said Bullfrog senior left tackle Frank Kotowski. “Your heart gets racing because he just won’t stop no matter how many people try stopping him.”
   Rasmussen carried just eight times and garnered 154 yards. That’s 19.2 yards per carry. And the beauty of it all is that Bret Harte’s 5-foot-7, 140-pound ultra-shifty, motorized bazooka refused to take a bow.
   “Everything tonight,” said Rasmussen, “was the result of the play of our offensive linemen. 100 percent of anything I did out there was because of them. They’re the ones who made it happen.”
    Kotowski, Taylor, guards Rodney Riner, Jared Duarte and Mike Rocco, and center Jesse Acedo were indeed barbaric.
    “Our O-line stepped up tonight,” said Riner. “We established our running game early, we never let up and they had trouble stopping it.”
   “We’re hard workers and we felt like snow plows out there,” said Rocco. “In our scrimmages this week, our second-team defense gave us a great look and that paid off for us tonight. Also, our practices were so intense all week and that intensity carried over onto the field tonight. We were one feisty football team.”
    Levi Goodale gave Bret Harte (1-1) a 3-0 lead with a first-quarter 39 yard-field goal.
   With 4:40 left in the quarter, Rocco and Taylor paved a wide hole, Rasmussen darted through it for a 6-yard touchdown run and Bret Harte led 10-0.
   Within a span of 16 seconds, Gustine (0-1) scored two touchdowns, one off a 42-yard pass and the other a 29-yard interception return.
   Trailing 13-10, with 48 seconds left in the quarter, Bret Harte had a first down at Gustine’s 33-yard line.
   Bullfrog senior fullback Tanner Sherrow took a handoff.
   “I got the ball and ran towards the right side and our line had blocked everybody down, so I made a cutback left,” explained Sherrow.
   The 6-foot, 175-pound fullback quickly advanced from the 33-yard line down to the 20.
   “Then I saw a lone cornerback sitting there,” said Sherrow.
   The Redskin cornerback was Cody Mees, a 5-10, 175-pound senior.
   Sherrow had a decision to make: Try and juke this quick defender or ... run over him.
    “Well,” said Sherrow, “our running backs coach, Coach (Gordon) Sadler, Sr., has been saying to me, ‘Truck over everybody in the first three quarters and then in the fourth quarter, you can start juking.’ ”
    So Sherrow flattened Mees. It was clean, to be sure. But it was also an unforgiving get-out-of-my-way, bone-shattering blast.
   “Tanner knocked that kid flat backwards to the ground,” said Sadler. “And that surprised their kid because most backs won’t choose to do that.”
    Sherrow then galloped the final 20 yards into the endzone to conclude the 33-yard scoring play, and Bret Harte took a 17-13 lead into the second quarter.
    “Tanner just blew that kid up,” said Duarte, “and that got our whole team fired up. After that play by Tanner, our whole team got going full tilt and never looked back.”
   With 7:56 left in the first half, Rasmussen rushed for his second score, this from 18-yards out, and Bret Harte led 24-13. The highlight of this play was Rasmussen leaping at the 4-yard line and swan-diving into the endzone.
    “My adrenaline was going there and I guess you could call it instincts, too,” said Rasmussen.
    “But,” he added with a smile, “I was thinking this was my one opportunity to make a long dive into the endzone, so I might as well take advantage of it.”
    Soon after, Bullfrog Connor Zumbach expanded the lead to 31-13 with a 7-yard touchdown run.
    “This whole game we kept playing with such emotion,” said Duarte. “Before the game, we were all over at (Head) Coach (Scott) Edwards’ house for dinner and he gave us this emotional speech that got us so excited and fired up. Basically, he wanted us to prove that we could compete like men.”
    “That was a great talk by Coach,” said Sherrow. “He got us going. On defense tonight, we kept going — we never stopped hitting people. On offense, our offensive line were man-movers. They were animals. They blocked to the whistle. We came here fired up and stayed fired up.”
    On first down at its own 48 with 45 seconds left in the first half, Edwards called a Rasmussen run, off tackle — a play that worked for an earlier score. Then Rocco and Taylor each came through with effective blocks and Rasmussen ran through the hole.
    Then he ran upfield.
    Then he cut left. Then right. Then back left. And then the jet-engine quick Rasmussen headed further left towards the sidelines. Once there ... aw, forget about it — nobody was catching this kid on Friday night.
   Rasmussen’s 52-yard scoring run gave the Frogs a 38-13 halftime lead.
   “So,” said Taylor, “we get in the locker room and Coach tells us, ‘It’s 0-0, play like you did in the first half’ — and then we did.”
    Three minutes into the second half, Rasmussen scored on a 7-yard run.
    Just over a minute later, Gustine’s fourth-down snap from center went into the endzone. Gustine’s punter grabbed the football but was quickly tackled by — who else? — Rasmussen, and the safety upped the lead to 47-13.
    Later in the quarter, Sherrow scored on a 14-yard run, Rasmussen raced into the endzone on a 34-yard carry and the lead was 61-13.
    On the night, Bret Harte gained 311 yards rushing on 26 carries. Sherrow had 98 yards on six carries. Bullfrog quarterback Seth Holcomb completed 4-of-8 passes for 49 yards.
    The Bullfrog defense was mostly frenetic and merciless. Gustine carried the ball 35 times and gained a total of — are you ready for this? — negative 10 yards. Now that statistic is inflated — or perhaps the better word is deflated — by three fumbles on punt snaps which accounted for minus-66 yards rushing. But take those three fumbles away and Bret Harte’s defense still held the Redskins to an average of just 1.5 yards per carry.
    “In the first part of the first quarter, we got beat on a few pass plays, but we rebounded quick,” said Sherrow, who had five tackles and a sack at linebacker. “We didn’t let any little thing bother us. We just kept going and going and hitting people.”
    Safety Rasmussen had a game-high eight tackles and teammate and defensive lineman Kurtis Wainwright had seven tackles and a sack. Linebackers Rocco and Oscar Orozco and defensive back Chad Testa had five tackles apiece. Cornerback Jordan Gomez had two interceptions and four tackles. Orozco had a sack and linebacker Josh Bailey had four tackles, including two sacks.
   “Tonight was a lot of fun for us,” said Acedo. “We have a group of guys on this team that trust each other and love the game of football. I believe we can go far this season. I certainly think so. Actually, I know so.”

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