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Campolindo edges Freedom in thriller

Campolindo players rejoice after a season-opening win. Gregory Moreland-Tuhn / Staff Photo
Campolindo players rejoice after a season-opening win. Gregory Moreland-Tuhn / Staff Photo

Campolindo started off the game slow but battled back in a wild game against Freedom. In a game that featured Dillan Thoms going for 137 yards on the ground and Jacob Griessel throwing for 286 yards, No. 15 Campolindo (1-0) held on for a victory in the season opener at Freedom (0-1) by the score of 27-23. 

The game started off slow, as the game’s first two drives started with no scoring after Freedom junior quarterback Les Callen and the Falcons came up just short on fourth down in the red zone.

“So we definitely started a bit slow out of the gate,” Griessel said.

Greg Allen came up with a huge play for Freedom, intercepting the pass from Griessel and taking it all the way to the 1-yard line. Campolindo’s defense wasn’t going to allow the Falcons to capitalize, though, as they made a goal line stand to keep the score at 0-0. 

Finally, in the second quarter, the Bay Area had its first touchdown of the season as Callen found Tyler Lepolo in the endzone, giving Freedom a 6-0 lead. However, that lead didn’t last long as a wide open Max Heffernan ran down the field by hauling in a 51-yard touchdown pass from Griessel. 

As the end of the first half approached, the score stayed tied at 6-6, and the last two minutes of the half saw some fireworks. Big catches by Washington signee Vince Nunley and Tyler Lepolo brought Freedom to the red zone before the Callen-Lepolo connection struck again. 

With just 24 seconds left on the clock, Griessel led the Cougars down the field and scored a touchdown as time expired. He hit Max Rittman on a slant, getting in by the nose of the football to make the game 13-12 going into the half. 

A miscue early in the second half by Freedom kept the game at 13-12, but two turnovers on two separate plays gave Freedom the ball, which then gave Charles Goines the opportunity to run it in from two yards out to put the Falcons up 20-12 midway through the third quarter. 

Campolindo then came back by scoring a 21-yard touchdown, and after a successful two-point conversion brought in by Weaver, the Falcons and Cougars were tied at 20 as they headed into the fourth. 

Early in the fourth quarter, a mistake by the Cougars on a screen pass was noticed by Nunley, who scooped it up and brought the Falcons all the way to the 20 before being tackled. The offense couldn’t capitalize, though, and were left with a field goal but still took a 23-20 lead. 

The lead once again was short, as Weaver came away with a 51-yard strike from Griessel to put Campolindo up 27-23. 

Freedom got one more opportunity, but on fourth down and four yards to go, Lepolo’s stretch to get to the first came up half an inch short, giving Campolindo the win. 

“I have to say this is the hardest game I’ve ever worked in my entire football career,” said Campolindo junior lineman Elijah Klock. “Fifteen months is just 15 months of just being amped up and ready for this moment, and I think that really drove us to this win.”

In Thoms’ first game as a starter for Campolindo, his postgame thoughts were simple. 

“I’m so happy right now,” Thoms said. 

Campolindo moves to 1-0 and is scheduled to travel to Benicia at 7:30 p.m. March 19. After the tough loss, the Falcons will start their league season against the defending Bay Valley Athletic champions and No. 3 team in the Bay Area, Pittsburg.

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Box Score:

Campolindo

Rushing: Thoms: 20 carries, 137 yards. JT Clarke: 4 carries, 16 yards.

Passing: Jacob Griessel: 286 yards, 4 TD.

Receiving: Max Heffernan: 2 catches, 73 yards, TD. Joey Schmidt: 4 catches, 60 yards, TD. Maxwell Weaver: 2 catches, 70 yards, TD. Daniel Wheeler 1 catch, 25 yards. Zach Raphael: 2 catches, 22 yards. Max Rittman: 1 catch, 1 yard, TD.

Freedom

Rushing: Charles Goines: 20 carries, 70 yards, TD. Shamond Brooks: 10 carries, 51 yards. Tyler Lepolo: 3 carries, 26 yards. Les Callen: 2 carries, 6 yards.

Passing: Les Callen 149 yards, 2 TD.

Receiving: Tyler Lepolo: 7 catches, 91 yards, 2 TD. Vince Nunley: 9 catches, 80 yards. DeNiro Killian: 2 catches, 14 yards. Shamond Brooks: 1 catch, 3 yards.

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