One of the best high school rivalries around is the one between the Gridley Bulldogs and the Live Oak Lions. Their rivalry game has become known as the Harvest Bowl and Friday night marked another chapter in the Harvest Bowl history book.
Coming into the night, the Bulldogs knew the road to win would be tough mainly because they were playing against a Lions team that was undefeated in the regular season. The Bulldogs also sought redemption, as they had never won the Harvest Bowl. The Lions wanted to maintain both of those perfect records on their home turf. The stage was set for a great game.
Gridley knew that they would need some strategy in order to beat the Lions. They didn’t disappoint as they kicked off the game with an onside kick. The Lions didn’t blink and came up with the ball and started their opening possession with great field position. The Lions would make the most of it and score a touchdown on a 1-yard rush by Romario Acosta. On the PAT attempt, the ball holder bobbled the ball and had to abort the PAT attempt. They would not get the 2 point conversion. In terms of offense, that would be it for the half as the Lions went into the locker room with a 6-0 lead. Acosta threw one interception in the half, but the Bulldogs were unable to capitalize.
The 2nd half is where things really got going. Despite Acosta throwing another interception, the Lions’ Brian Ramirez, Acosta, and Christian Magana came up with three fumble recoveries. Along with the extra offensive opportunities, the Lions offense itself soared in the 2nd half. Acosta started it off with a touchdown pass to Aaron Pamma. Later in the half, Tyler Raymond rushed the ball in for 6 points and the Lions were running away with a 19-0 lead. Kirk Thao sealed the win with a rushing touchdown. In the end, the Lions would shutout the Gridley Bulldogs 26-0 and hoist the Golden Reaper once again.
At the end of the game, I asked Lions coach Dan Johnson about the victory. “They’re getting better and better” he said. “They do the simple things.” By the ‘simple things,’ Johnson meant “getting back to the game, picking up a few yards every play, and having nice blocking.” The Lions coach, now with a 4-0 record this season, said that his team will play the rest of the season “one game at a time.”
The Live Oak Lions remain perfect in both the regular season (4-0) and the Harvest Bowl (4-0). They head on the road for a tough road test against Winters next week. After that, they will get a bye, and then league play will start up.