The Foothill Falcons avenged a season-opening, non-conference gridiron loss to the Livermore Cowboys on Saturday with a 27-14 East Bay-Valley League victory.
With the win, Foothill finishes its conference schedule with a perfect 4-0 record (4-1 overall), giving the Falcons bragging rights, although no official conference titles will be awarded this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the abbreviated football schedule.
On March 13, with Foothill missing an extra-point kick on its opening touchdown, Livermore went on to narrowly defeat the Falcons 14-13. The rematch was also a nail-biter until Foothill’s Dylan Noval intercepted a Cowboy pass in the Livermore end zone with about four minutes left in the game.
“That was definitely the play of the season,” said Foothill Head Coach Greg Haubner, who noted that Livermore had gained momentum on two consecutive third-quarter scoring drives after having fallen behind 20-0 at the half. Cowboys quarterback Shaun Smith completed touchdown passes to wide receiver Tyler Martin and tight end Matthew Polaski to close the gap to six points.
Foothill responded with its fourth rushing touchdown, the second by Jayden Payne, who finished with 161 yards on 34 carries.
But Livermore was driving again when Noval intercepted Smith’s pass in the end zone.
Haubner said the Falcon’s game plan was to keep the ball on the ground, using as much time as possible and keeping the ball away from Livermore’s talented senior quarterback, which meant giving the ball to Payne.
“He’s a tough, athletic kid,” Haubner said. “He was basically the difference in the game.”
Nick Walsh, the Falcon’s quarterback who completed seven of 13 passes for 103 yards and scored twice on short-yardage dives into the end zone, also received praise from his coach for how he managed the game.
“He was very efficient and avoided any negative plays,” Haubner said. “He understood the game plan.”
Livermore, now 3-1 in the conference (4-1 overall), has one more league match this coming Saturday at Granada.
Foothill was scheduled to close out the season with a non-conference game at Amador Valley, but the rivalry game was cancelled after two Amador Valley players reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.