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Fall River beats Los Molinos 42-28 to earn top seed in D-V

Fall River quarterback Ryan Osborne, pictured during last year's NSCIF D-V championship game, accounted for three touchdowns in the win over Los Molinos. (FILE PHOTO -- Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

Fall River and Los Molinos had a lot to play for on the last night of the regular season.  For the Bulldogs, a 1 seed and home field through the playoffs as well as a league championship were the prize, for Los Molinos, a first round bye, a 2 seed, and a home game to start the playoffs was the prize.  And the intensity of the game matched the stakes.

The Bulldogs prevailed with a 42-28 win over the Bulldogs.

From the opening kickoff, the tension was present.  Bradley Danya caused a fumble on the opening kickoff and Fall River got the first possession, driving down 45 yards and scoring on a Ryan Obsorne 2 yard quarterback keeper.  The PAT failed and three minutes into the game, Fall River led 6-0.  The second kickoff was bobbled again by Los Molinos, but this time, they got it at the 12 and Fall River was looking good.  But Hunter Landingham ran the first play from scrimmage 88 yards for a Los Molinos Touchdown, scored the 2 point conversion, and it was suddenly 8-6 Los Molinos.  Fall River took the next possession at their own 40, and again, methodically drove 30 yards in about 3 minutes, but when it looked like Los Molinos might have a stop, Ryan Osborne lofted a perfect 31 yard pass to Royce Knoch, the 2 point conversion by Timmy Westlund was good and it was 14-8.  The last 4 minutes of the quarter, Los Molinos drove the field, leading to another Landingham touchdown,  After the conversion was stopped, the game was tied at 14, and the wild first quarter ended that way.

In the second, the defenses stepped up a little.  Fall River drove down to the red zone and looked to score again, but Osborne threw an interception, Los Molinos drove near midfield, then Landingham got his 3rd touchdown, a 55 yard run, and after the conversion failed, Los Molinos led 20-14.  Fall River got an unsportsmanlike penalty on the conversion, and got the ball on the 20 after it was kicked into the end zone.  But Ryan Osborne connected with Royce Knoch again, on an 80 yard pass play, and after Timmy Westlund got the 2 point conversion, it was 22-20 Fall River.

Fall River got the ball to start the second half, and drove to midfield, but turned it over on downs.   In the 3rd though, Los Molinos imploded with 3 of their 6 turnovers as Fall River got their defense on track and began to get some push through a tired Los Molinos line and get hits in the backfield.  Blake Boyes got an interception that led to a short field and a Westlund 10 yard touchdown from Osborne, and twice the defense forced punts, and twice the snap to the punter went awry, first recovered by Philip Wortman leading to a Royce Knoch 4 yard touchdown, and the second caused by Wortman, picked up by Colton Oilar, and run back 18 yards for a defensive touchdown.  Suddenly, it was 42-20 and Fall River was in charge.  The defense played terrific in the 4th, the offense took time off the clock, and though one touchdown was given up, the defense got two more interceptions, by Royce Knoch and Bradley Danya, and though Los Molinos got a touchdown with 2 minutes remaining, the defense sealed the victory, 42-28.

Offensively, the stats were not eye popping except for Royce Knoch with 2 receptions for 111 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ryan Osborne went 5-9 for 140 yards 2 touchdowns and an interception.  The receivers got consistently behind the defensive backs, but Osborne overthrew a couple, and also was pressured some and only had 11 pass attempts.  The rushing game only generated 104 yards, Timmy Westlund with 9 rushes for 43 yards and Kenny Westlund with 14 rushes for 48 yards.  But the offense got the yards it needed and got the big plays when it needed them.

Defensively, Fall River had 20 players get tackles, led by Royce Knoch with 13 and Brennan Woodward, Xavier Rodriguez, and Philip Wortman with 7 each.  The defensive line dominated most of the second half and the turnovers they caused were the difference in the game.  Hunter Landingham had at least 250 yards (stats for Los Molinos were not available), but when needed, the Fall River defense stepped up and got him in the backfield in that second half and forced Los Molinos to pass.

Fall River (7-1, 8-2) now awaits seeding for the Division 5 playoffs, they should be the one seed, tied with Biggs but winning head to head, and have a first round bye.

Wil Keepers is a teacher, coach, and writer, who now teaches Science and coaches Track and Cross-Country at Fall River High School. He has 18 years of experience as a teacher, 12 years experience as a cross-country coach, nine years experience as a track coach, and six years coaching middle school basketball. He began writing four years ago and in August 2018 began writing for Shasta County Sports. He has been married for 21 years, and has three daughters

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