After a not-so-special ending to the regular season, the Ramona High football team bounced back in a big way Friday night.
Senior running back Sean McDonald scored four touchdowns and the Ramona defense clamped down in the second half, leading the Bulldogs to a 45-24 victory over Olympian in the opening round of the Section Division II playoffs.
“We came ready to play,” said McDonald, who rushed for 174 yards on 26 carries, including touchdown runs of 10, 9, 13 and 53 yards. “We came with a different approach.”
With the win, Ramona (7-3) earned a quarterfinal-round date with top-seeded Granite Hills on Nov. 9.
Just one week prior, the Bulldogs had a slew of special teams mistakes and dropped a 49-10 decision to Valley Center in a game which decided the Valley League championship. This time around, it was Ramona taking advantage of three Olympian turnovers, including interceptions by Riley Colvin and Cameron Necochea.
“When you don’t turn the ball over on special teams, you’re in games,” said Ramona coach Damon Baldwin, whose team was making its 14th consecutive playoff appearance under his helm.
Senior quarterback Derek Diamond completed his first seven passes of the night and finished 12 of 13 for 178 yards and touchdown passes of 7 yards to Colvin and 41 yards to Necochea.
“It’s playoff time, and that’s when the seniors need to get it going,” said Diamond.
Olympian, the third-place finisher in the Metro Mesa League, finished its season at 3-8 under sixth-year coach Paul Van Nostrand.
The two teams alternated scores throughout the first half, with McDonald’s second touchdown run from 9 yards out providing the hosts with a 21-14 lead 1:11 left before the intermission.
Kalehn Newson, whose 2-yard TD run tied the score at 14-14, had a 25-yard run following McDonald’s score to set up Olympian for a 36-yard field goal by Erik Duarte with four seconds left in the half to close the gap to 21-17.
Colvin intercepted a pass by Eagles quarterback Lukas Hamilton on the second play of the third period, and five plays later Diamond found Necochea for a 41-yard TD strike for a 28-17 lead. Diamond was relieved late in the fourth period, and the only score for Olympian in the second half was a 75-yard interception return by Ethan Zazueta with 2:23 remaining.
McDonald’s final carry of the night came two plays later and went 53 yards to seal the outcome.
Hoff is a freelance writer.
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