June 20, 2024
"I think he'd tell you he can play better. I think our expectations of him are so high that when he misses a few passes in a row we think the sky is falling."

LAFAYETTE — San Ramon Valley didn’t play the prettiest game. But an efficient first half from senior quarterback Luke Baker gave the Wolves all they needed against Acalanes.

The Wolves beat the home team Dons 44-21 on Friday night at Acalanes High School in Lafayette, improving their record to 2-0 on the season following a rout of St. Ignatius in the opening week. Acalanes moves to 0-2.

Baker led a dominant first half in which the Wolves scored 34 points, including two passing touchdowns by Baker and a pair of rushing touchdowns. Senior running back John Pau Mendoza finished the game with two rushing touchdowns. Throughout the game and particularly in the second half, Baker found himself on the move, sometimes for big rushing gains.

“He was efficient early,” head coach Aaron Becker said. “I think he’d tell you he can play better. I think our expectations of him are so high that when he misses a few passes in a row we think the sky is falling.”

Baker is coming off a 307-yard performance against the Wildcats in which he completed 19 of his 25 passes. The Acalanes defense did what they could to slow Baker and a potent San Ramon Valley offense, particularly in the red zone. Though the Wolves moved down field with relative ease, the Dons’ defense found ways to force a field goal and, in the second half, force turnovers on downs and keep themselves in the game.

Baker opened the game with an efficient drive down the field capped off by a Mendoza 3-yard touchdown. Acalanes answered by converting a pair of third downs with running back Jack Giorgianni’s 8-yard touchdown tying the game. San Ramon answered right back with a touchdown drive fueled by a long Baker run to the one-yard line and capped by a two-yard pass to receiver Hudson Brinton.

Acalanes got pinned to their own five-yard line on a muffed kick return and interception, but held the Wolves to a field goal to make it 17-7 at the end of the quarter. A Dons fumble in the second quarter recovered by Mitch Bruno at the Acalanes 30-yard line led to a Makai Vierra one-yard rushing touchdown.

The Dons crawled back into the game behind quarterback Sully Bailey, who rushed to midfield and converted on third-and-two with a completion to Trevor Rogers and set up a touchdown pass to Henry Souza to make it 27-14. But a failed onside kick with under two minutes to go, recovered by Vierra, put the Wolves on the Dons’ 44-yard line. Baker found Dylan Deitsch for the 16-yard touchdown pass to give San Ramon a 34-14 halftime lead.

But the second half would not be as high-scoring.

“I know he was disappointed in the second half,” Becker said. “Thought we could have done a little better and been more proficient.”

Acalanes went full tilt in the second half, but couldn’t overcome the deficit despite strong defense and risky fourth-down plays. The Dons turned the ball over on downs on their own 46 yard line to open up the second half, resulting in Mendoza’s second rushing touchdown of the night.

“He ran hard. He always runs hard,” Becker said. “He finds a little crack and is able to get through it.”

The Dons threatened later, making up for a fumble by forcing a San Ramon to turn the ball over on downs on their own 25. Acalanes opened the fourth quarter with a one-yard passing touchdown, but the game was won.

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