By Bill Paterson
It's a given that if you want to see old-fashioned football and a fast-paced game, Rio Linda is the place to go.
The Knights have been a traditional power-run team through the years.
So where games involving high-tech spread teams can drag on for three hours or more, the Knights often are done in two hours or less, running mostly through the tackles.
The No. 10 Knights didn't disappoint Friday night. They polished off previously unbeaten Ponderosa 21-7 in 1 hour and 55 minutes, which also included a 20-minute halftime break for homecoming.
Speedy but sturdy 6-foot, 215-pound Marcel Brown and 6-foot, 245-pound Leonard Skattebo offered contrasting running styles.
Skattebo pounded inside for 62 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Brown ran both inside and outside for 145 yards on 24 carries. He also had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Paving the way for them were tenacious linemen Hunter Clark, Danny Chavez, Matt Morris, Vaughn Hingano, Blake Harris and Stephan Carter. They helped the Knights control tempo, time of possession and a guaranteed quick finish.
On defense, Skattebo, a linebacker, also stood out with 16 tackles and safety Zak Burden had two interceptions, one he returned 21 yards for a touchdown, and a fumble recovery as the Knights (4-1) won their fourth in a row. Ponderosa dropped to 4-1.
The one weakness for the Knights: They struggled in the passing game. Quarterback Stephen Andrews completed just 2 of 8 passes and three were picked off by Ponderosa's Kevin Ackernecht, Conrad Washington and Xavier Valles.
"Pondo was well-coached and a solid football team," Rio Linda coach Mike Morris said. "I thought both defenses played well. It was a struggle in all three phases to score tonight."
The two teams battled through a scoreless first half, then provided some fireworks after the halftime show ended. Brown scooped up the opening kickoff at the 1-yard line and ran right up the gut to the end zone.
Ponderosa tied it when Ackernecht took Rio Linda's kickoff at the 9 and ran it back 91 yards. That was two touchdowns in 28 seconds.
But Rio Linda came right back by driving 58 yards before Skattebo scored on a 1-yard plunge midway in the third quarter to go up 14-7.
Burden salted the victory with an interception return for a touchdown with 4:39 to go. That came two snaps after Rio Linda ran 15 plays and consumed nearly eight minutes before Carter's punt pinned Ponderosa on its own 8-yard line.
The game was a lot different than last year's dramatic Rio Linda 15-13 win in Shingle Springs.
Danny Perez, a lineman and backup kicker to Jonathan Tafoya, unexpectedly was thrust into a pressure-packed situation in the final seconds and responded with a 35-yard field goal that cleared the bar by 4 inches.
In other games:
No. 5 Granite Bay 36, Lincoln- Stockton 21 in Stockton - Josh Neal hit Marc Ellis for first-half touchdown passes of 11 and 12 yards, hit Dylan Keeney for a 17-yard strike in the third quarter and ran in from a yard out for a score in the fourth quarter to lead the Grizzlies past the Trojans.
Cosumnes Oaks 45, Union Mine 6 in Elk Grove - Jaaron Stallworth completed 19 of 23 passes for 222 yards and four touchdowns in the first half, hitting Alex Van Dyke two times and L.J. Reed once. A national recruit, Van Dyke had 91 yards receiving playing in front of Oregon State coach Mike Riley and UCLA assistant coach Angus McClure.
Bear River 27, Eureka 23 in Lake of the Pines - Braden Duncan completed 14 of 22 passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns and Kris Edie had seven receptions, including the game-winning 35-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter as the Bruins (5-0) remained unbeaten.
Rosemont 46, Valley 0 at Cosumnes River College - Kameron Williams returned 68- and 60-yard punts for touchdowns and also scored on a one yard run to lead the unbeaten Timberwolves (5-0, 2-0) past the Vikings (0-5, 0-2) in a Metro Conference game.
Woodcreek 48, Placer 47 in Auburn - Isaiah Harbarth completed 16 of 23 passes for 289 yards and four touchdowns, three to Malcolm Thomas (178 receiving yards), to lead the Timberwolves (2-3) past the Hillmen.
Cameron Scott's 4-yard touchdown with 53 seconds enabled the Hillmen to close to within one, but the two-point conversion run failed.
Todd Valliere led Placer (1-4) in rushing for 128 yards and a touchdown, catching a 57-yard touchdown pass and intercepting a pass..