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Football: Rojas gives up single-game record in Tigers’ win

Football: Rojas gives up single-game record in Tigers’ win

Tigers rush for 307 yards in 49-7 win over the Lindsay Cardinals in ESL opener

By Patrick Dillon

WOODLAKE – Woodlake’s 49-7 drubbing over Lindsay looks like any other lopsided box score. But what happened between the numbers on Friday night transcended an East Sequoia League victory.

Woodlake running back Victor Rojas had the best night of his career. His 15 carries for 169 yards rendered five rushing touchdowns. That number tied him with the school record for most rushing touchdowns in a single game with eight minutes. With plenty of time for one more score the Tigers drove the ball down to the one-yard line. Of course, Woodlake head coach Jeff Johnson called Rojas’ number to give him the chance to etch his name in the record books. Surprisingly Rojas declined. Instead he wanted his friend Josh Benavidez to take the last carry in for the score.

“I had enough for me and I didn’t need anymore,” Rojas said. “The record is a record whether I break or not doesn’t matter. My friend wanted this, and he drove it all the way down the one anyway, so it was his touchdown to get.”

Coach Johnson afterwards was taken aback by the humility of his running back.

“That is family right there,” Johnson said. “That right there is more important to me than the score.”

In the game the Tigers’ (4-1, 1-0) scored on every possession, but their last, and their running game accounted for 307 of their 376 yards of total offense. The duo of Rojas and Benavidez scored six of the Tigers’ touchdowns. Together they carried the ball a combined 25 times for 269 yards. It is the first-time this season Woodlake has had two running backs rush for over 100 yards in a single game.

“We do what Woodlake does well and try to get better at it every day,” Johnson said.

Rojas was the primary back on this night as he churned up 169 yards on 15 carries. Much of his success came on the edge. After he scored all three touchdowns in the first quarter he added his fourth five plays into the second quarter. This time he took a sweep up the far side of the field 29 yards for the score. Later in the quarter he had his longest run of the evening when he once again cut to the outside on a counter for 47 yards for the score. That made it 35-0 at halftime.

“All my credit goes to my offensive line and my receivers,” Rojas said. “They are down the field blocking for me, and without them I couldn’t have gotten any yards.”

 Victor Rojos leaps in celebration with one of his teammates after one of his record tying touchdowns. Photo by Patrick Dillon.

Victor Rojas leaps in celebration with one of his teammates after one of his record tying touchdowns. Photo by Patrick Dillon.

If Rojas is the quick scoring back Benavidez is the hard hitting bruiser between the tackles. Much of Benavidez’s yards came on counter plays which Lindsay (2-2, 0-1) were unable to stop all night.

It was the physicality of the Tigers in the trenches that allowed Woodlake’s offensive line three to five yards down the field.

“They just physically beat us,” Lindsay head coach Matt Mendonca said. “We can run the plays in practice, but it is tough for us to simulate the size when you don’t have that on your team.”

The Cardinals offense did not fare much better. The lone bright spot was when Ethan Natera found Angel Perez in the corner of the end zone in the fourth quarter for a 19-yard score. Besides that, Natera barely had time to go through his progressions before he was flushed out of the pocket by a Tiger defender.

This is the second game in a row the Tigers’ have obliterated their opponents. They have outscored their opponents 112-7 in two contests. This Friday they will travel to Hanford to play the Sierra Pacific Golden Bears at 7:15 p.m. before continuing their road trip the following week in Strathmore against the two-time defending ESL Champions Spartans. A match up which will have league title implications.

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