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November 8, 2002

Salesian rumbles past CSD

From: Oakland Tribune, CA
Nov. 8, 2002

By Ken Bishop


FREMONT -- Senior running back Keith Thornton delivered through the wind and rain Thursday afternoon as Salesian High scrambled the mini Bay Football League race, finally cracking California School for the Deaf's defense, as the Chieftans won, 33-13.

Thornton scored three touchdowns and rushed 29 times for 161 yards as Salesian (4-5, 2-1) bought back into the BFL race, matching CSD (7-2, 2-1) for second place. Both teams battled the elements for the final three periods, but Salesian left no doubts with an overwhelming victory that snapped a six-game Eagles win streak.

Salesian slammed the hosts for 307 net yards rushing in 50 attempts, and senior quarterback Kyle Bethel outshone CSD's Clint Dickinson with a modest 62-27 passing yardage edge as the elements conspired against any aerial game.

Leader St. Elizabeth (6-2, 2-0 BFL) plays at Berean Christian Saturday, then hosts CSD Nov. 14 at Burrell Field. Salesian hosts Emery Nov. 16 in a regular season finale that could create a three-way tie.

When Thornton bulldozed up the middle for a 15-yard score 5:22 into play Thursday, it was the first points yielded by CSD's defense in 303 minutes (more than 25 quarters).

Potter Valley's fourth quarter tally Sept. 21 (with 9:58 left to play) was the last points yielded by Eagle defenders. But with Thornton and fullback Miguel Bautista taking turns Thursday, CSD's defense, which had blanked six straight foes, was back on its heels most of the game.

Coach Kevin Bella could only lament, signing through an interpreter, "I think the kids took winning for granted. The weather really changed our game plan, but come Monday we need to work harder and practice harder."

Bella concluded, "I told the kids to "keep your chin up" and to look at the bright side of things."

Indeed, the first-year coach had driven his charges to a school-record seven wins. And while St. Elizabeth and Salesian are viable postseason Class A playoff entries, the Eagles may be among the Class B elite in what would be their second trip to the playoffs in the past 11 seasons.

Thornton had 18 rushes for 107 yards by halftime, and the Chieftans 28 for 179 in the first half before the going got rough.

The Chieftans dominated early with Thornton carrying six times for 42 yards on a 10-play, 55-yard opening drive that made it 7-0.

A bit later, CSD moved 80 yards in three plays as David Harvey scored his fifth touchdown in three weeks, sweeping to the right side for a 63-yard run 16 seconds into the second quarter for a 7-7 tie.

But Salesian's Brandon Ruffin went 40 yards on a reverse around the left side, culminating a nine-play, 80-yard march that made it 13-7.

Salesian then got tremendous field position for the final 17 minutes of play. A botched CSD punt snap put Salesian in great shape. Bethel and Robert Van Looy connected on a 37-yarder to the Eagle 2 from which Bautista scored with 3:40 left in the third period for 19-7.

The first of three quick CSD turnovers then added to its misery as Thornton scored from 17 yards with 1:02 remaining in the third for 25-7. Thornton later fumbled at the goal line after Van Looy sped 26 yards following the first of two Dickinson interceptions.

But Van Looy rumbled 38 yards a few minutes later with another pass theft, and Thornton powered in from the 5 on third-and-3 for a 33-7 edge with 5:15 left to play.

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