Triple digit heat delayed the varsity football game between Sonora and Lodi Friday night, moving game time from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and the junior varsity game was canceled.
It was still 92 at the Grape Bowl in Lodi when the Wildcats took the field for warmups in all white uniforms.
Four quarters later, the Wildcats left the field with a 27-12 loss to the Lodi Flames.
The Flames kicked off, and Sonora started from the 30 yard line.
Sonora showed strength on the first play. A short pickup of three but it took a lot of Flames to make the tackle.
Sonora decided to go for it on fourth down with a yard and a half needed, but an offsides call on the Flames gave them the distance.
Running back CJ Castleman then took off down the left side of the field setting up the Cats at the 26 yard line. A pitch to Kellen Phillips set up the next play as QB Jake Gookin scored on a keeper.
Sonora went for the 2-point conversion but were called for holding and had to attempt from 10 yards farther back. Gookin’s pass attempt into the endzone was broken up leaving the score 6-0 with 8 minutes left in the first quarter.
The Flames returned the kickoff to the 30 yard line. Sonora sealed up the middle allowing a yard on the play. White jerseys were swarming on the first set of downs for the Flames and Lodi was forced to punt after three downs.
Sonora made their first mental error on the punt return as the receiver missed the catch and the Flames recovered. The Wildcats also picked up a personal foul setting up the Flames at the 20 yard line.
Controlling the ball was again an issue, said coach Bryan Craig.
“We just didn’t execute,” he said. “We didn’t protect the ball at all.”
Those kinds of mistakes are what give an opposing team momentum, said Craig. And that’s what happened Friday night.
A fumble by the Flames on the second down was recovered by Sonora.
On third and three Gookin’s pass sailed through the hands of a receiver setting up a fourth down and a punt.
A personal foul on the Flames tacked on an extra 15 yards to the Wildcats punt.
The Flames then made a steady push down the field, picking up 10 or so yards a play, showing play variety. They advanced to Wildcat territory as the first quarter ended.
It was third and 15 for the Flames to start the quarter. The Flames converted on fourth setting up first and goal.
The Flames scored on second on an endzone pass evening the score at 6. The Flames; point after attempt was good and Lodi took the lead with 10:53 to play in the second quarter.
A touchback on kickoff put the Wildcats on the 20. Jack Camara plowed through the Flames’ defense taking the Wildcats near mid-field before a dropped ball backed them up to the 40.
Another mishandled ball by Sonora gave the Flames the ball on the 25 with 8:50 to play in the first half.
After about 40 minutes on the field the players on both sides were showing fatigue. With 7:30 left in the half the Flames were forced to punt on fourth down.
Gookin again handed off to Castleman whose speed proved tough for Lodi to manage throughout the first half.
After more than five minutes of possession, Sonora turned the ball over and the Flames took over with 1:41 to play in the half.
Flames’ QB Logan Stout ran the ball to midfield and a facemask hold on Sonora tacked on an extra 15 at the end of the play. The Flames ran the ball to the 5 yard line with 11 seconds to play in the half, And the Flames’ Angelo Zazzarino scored on a short pass. The point after attempt was good and the score at the half was 14-6, Lodi.
The Wildcats kicked off to begin the second half and on the third play of the series the Flames scored with a 30-yard run. The point after attempt was good giving the Flames a 21-6 lead with 11:32 left in the quarter.
On the kickoff return Sonora fumbled the ball and Lodi recovered. The Flames gave it right back, Jack Camara picked up the loose ball and scored the touchdown. Sonora wasn’t able to make the 2-point conversion, making the score 21-12 with 10:59 to play.
Sonora took over after a short punt with 2:58 to play in the third quarter.
On the second play of the drive, Lodi recovered a Wildcat fumble.
Devun Battle broke up a potential touchdown pass and the Flames turned over on downs.
A pair of first down conversions moved the WIldcats into the red zone as the third quarter ended.
A motion penalty turned a fourth and 5 into a fourth and 10 for the Wildcats. Gookin dropped back to pass but was quickly swarmed by Flames defenders. Lodi took over with 9:53 to play.
On third and 3 Alfredo Estrada ran the ball into Sonora territory.
It was still just a two score game as the Flames started to slow down play with a series of short gain running plays.
With 6:19 to play, the Flames’ QB Logan Stout ran for a touchdown taking Lodi up 27-12. The point after attempt was no good.
Sonora started the next series on the 20 yard line after a touchback.
On fourth and 8 Gookin’s pass went through the hands of the intended receiver, giving the Flames possession in Sonora territory with 4:09 to play in the game.
Lodi took a knee to end the game with the final score of 27-12.
As for what the team will be talking about next week, likely the same thing they lead off every week’s practice - ball control.
Despite the 0-2 start there’s still a chance to win the league, said Craig.
“We’ve got to look inside ourselves,” Craig said.
Sonora plays Ripon High School in Ripon at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8.