CONCORD — As the Bishop O’Dowd players walked back to their locker room after a 45-24 loss to De La Salle Friday night, no one was hanging his head.
Yes, Bishop O’Dowd had been schooled by the Spartans. They trailed 38-3 at halftime and 45-10 before scoring a couple of feel-good touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
“They are what we thought they are,” said Austin Jones, a junior running back and four-star recruit. “We were going to come here and battle. We want to show teams that we’re not just a program that beats up on little teams. We want to play the top teams.
“This was a learning experience,” Jones added. “But this doesn’t define our season.”
Bishop O’Dowd (3-2) has now suffered 21-point defeats two weeks in a row. It lost to Freedom 42-21 last Friday. But the games were much different.
Against Freedom, the Dragons trailed 28-21 at halftime and got shut down in the second half.
De La Salle (5-1) scored on its first play from scrimmage when Kairee Robinson bolted 69 yards. Then after punting the next time they had the ball, the Spartans scored on five straight possessions to take that 38-3 lead into the break.
“I liked our first half,” De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh said. “We were much cleaner than we have been. Our starters played good.
“The second half was not what we wanted,” he said. “We didn’t move the ball effectively.”
The Spartans had 321 yards of total offense in the first half and 58 yards in the second half.
By contrast, O’Dowd totaled 111 yards in the first half and 228 after intermission. Most of it came on two plays — a 75-yard pass and run by Jones, and his 68-yard touchdown run.
The intrigue in this game was not the outcome. Most everyone felt the Spartans would win.
Instead, these were old Catholic Athletic League schools playing for the first time since 1985. At that time, De La Salle was a developing football power under a young Bob Ladouceur.
Bishop O’Dowd was a basketball school with a football team.
Now De La Salle is a renowned football program. Subject of a movie. Subject of a book. National following.
The Dragons might not have the same ambitions under coach Napoleon Kaufman, the former Oakland Raider. But he isn’t scheduling back-to-back visits to Freedom and De La Salle without aspirations to bring his program up in stature.
There will be growing pains, for sure. Bishop O’Dowd won a CIF State Division 5-AA title last season, but on Friday they were out of the game as quickly as many other DLS opponents have been over the years.
After Robinson’s touchdown, Henry To’oto’o scored on runs of 40 yards and six yards, receiver Jack Powers caught a 28-yard touchdown pass, George King bulled over from the 8 and Jackson Walsh booted a 33-yard field goal.
O’Dowd scored first in the second half on the 75-yard pass play from quarterback Quinn Brinnon to Jones, but King capped off six-play, 19-yard drive with a 1-yard run to make it 45-10, a drive set up by Angel Asiasi’s interception and long return.
After that? Running clock.
Jones and receiver Jevon Holland are marvelous players. Jones finished the night with 51 rushing yards and four pass receptions for 109 yards. Holland had four catches for 98 yards. He’s committed to Oregon.
But Bishop O’Dowd lacks the depth that De La Salle has. And the overall team speed. And having running backs like To’oto’o and King when Robinson is not available, as was the case last week.
Robinson missed the Central-Fresno game with a concussion, and it wasn’t known for sure if he would play against O’Dowd. Then came the 69-yard touchdown run.
“I felt great,” Robinson said. “Earlier in the week, I started feeling good, and they finally said I could go.”
Go he did, for 115 yards on only four carries.
“Not a bad thing to have him back,” Alumbaugh said of Robinson. “He could have scored two more touchdowns. And he was the first one to tell me that.”
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