DE LA SALLE 35, PITTSBURG 0
In what was arguably a matchup between the East Bay’s two best defensive teams, this games was always going to come down to which team’s offense could execute and make the least amount of mistakes. Not surprisingly, it was De La Salle (13-0). Pittsburg’s defense made the Spartans work for it, but they still eclipsed over 400 yards of offense and reached the end zone five times. It was another complete effort from a program that’s made a history of them “” and that’s why this was its 23rd straight NCS title win.
WHY DE LA SALLE WON: Dominance at the line of scrimmage. Pittsburg’s offense struggled all night to get any push up front. De La Salle’s defense allowed just 91 yards of offense and 38 of those yards came on back-to-back plays early in the second half. Offensively, the Spartans were able to rack up 353 rushing yards as Antoine Custer and Drew Hernandez both had big nights.
WHY PITTSBURG LOST: The Pirates (10-3) simply could not sustain any offensive momentum. They finished with just four first downs on the night, one of which came on the second-to-last play of the game. As good as the Pittsburg defense is, asking it to be on the field for two-thirds of the game against the No. 2-ranked team in the state is simply asking too much.
PLAY OF THE GAME: The biggest momentum-swinging play in the game happened on De La Salle’s second possession. The Spartans were leading 7-0, but were facing a 4th-and-long after QB Chris Vanderklugt was sacked by Gabe McCoy for a 9-yard loss. De La Salle was set to punt from its own 27, but an overzealous punt block attempt turned into roughing the punter on Pittsburg. Seven plays later, De La Salle lead 14-0 after Hernandez scored on a 30-yard run.
PITTSBURG PLAYER OF THE GAME: It was a long night for pretty much every Pirate, but Gabe McCoy continued his outstanding junior season with another solid night at defensive end. He had one sack and combined on a viscious hit that forced a Vanderklugt fumble which Pittsburg’s Isaiah Lopez recovered and returned to midfield on the final play of the first quarter.
QUOTABLE: “We’re coming along. … We’re getting there. We still have some work to do. Overall, I was really happy. That’s a tough, physical team, and that’s how it should be in the NCS championships. It’s great to play Pitt again. It’s always a great rivalry.” “” De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh on the victory and where he sees his team after 13 games.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR DE LA SALLE: On Dec. 7, the Spartans are heavy favorites to be granted the express bid directly to the CIF Open Division State Bowl championship on Dec. 20 in Carson. Many anticipate the opponent could be CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Champion Centennial-Corona, a program the Spartans have seen in three previous bowls and are 2-1 against. In the very slim chance that Folsom (14-0) is given the Open Div. berth, De La Salle would play in a Div. I Northern Regional Bowl playoff on Dec. 12.
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