It was just like 2012 for the Amador Valley High football team.
The visiting Dons displayed a familiar never-say-die spirit Friday night, rallying to stun Joe Mixon-led Freedom 35-28 in the teams' season openers.
After Mixon scored four touchdowns and ran for 157 yards in the first half, he endured a nightmarish second half. He appeared to suffer from severe cramps and wound up with 198 yards on 20 carries.
When Amador Valley's Michael White, who had three touchdowns and 188 yards rushing, scored on a 49-yard run to tie the game 28-28 in the third quarter, Mixon, also a safety, stayed down on the 5-yard line during a lengthy delay.
The Dons kept surging as they did last year in a comeback win over Granada and dramatic triumphs over Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley. Amador Valley trailed by 14 points three times against the Falcons but won a battle of attrition.
"The way we came back after the way we started the game is a tremendous example of who those guys are," Dons coach Rick Sira said. "They had the resiliency and the drive to want to get it done, all of them."
White, a senior, kept motoring through gaping holes for big gains. He had 162 yards in the second half, including putting the Dons ahead to stay, 35-28, on a 63-yard run with 4:13 to play.
Mixon scored on a 75-yard run on his first carry of the season.
He upped Freedom's lead to two touchdowns by intercepting Zeke Burgermeister and scoring on a 27-yard return. After Amador Valley cut the deficit to 14-7 on a 14-yard completion from Burgermeister to Patrick Pipitone in the first quarter, Mixon scored on a 5-yard run to make it 21-7.
Acalanes 35, Hercules 28, OT: Quarterback Casey Harrington erased a nightmarish start with a miraculous second half, leading the Dons to an overtime victory over visiting Hercules in their season opener.
Harrington's 7-yard touchdown pass to Robbie Stern with 37 seconds left, and his conversion pass to John Lauth, tied the game at 28-all, after the Dons had trailed 21-7 at halftime.
In the final three minutes of the first half, Hercules turned two Harrington fumbles and an interception into TDs, the last blast a 95-yard return by Antwuin Prowes on the final play of the half.
Harrington also connected with Stern for an 18-yard touchdown and scored on a 6-yard run when the Dons got back into the game by dominating the third quarter.
The Titans, leading 28-20, had stopped Acalanes at their own 7 when Solomon Clark sacked Harrington on fourth down, and three plays later, Eldon Baltzar's 54-yard punt put the Dons at their 22 with 3:22 to play. But completions of 24 yards to Lauth and 17 yards to Stern, followed by a pass interference, set up the tying score with 37 seconds left.
Harrington passed for 169 yards. Peter Mitchell was the Dons' workhorse, carrying 27 times for 124 yards.
-- Steve Dulas, correspondent
Las Lomas 15, Bishop O'Dowd 7: Apparently, Ben Wood didn't like how he ended the first half, so he sought redemption in the second half.
The Las Lomas junior quarterback threw an interception just before halftime that led to the Dragons' only score, but he more than made up for it in the second half as he had two long touchdown runs and finished with 198 yards rushing, 260 total, as the Knights opened the year with a home win.
"In the locker room at halftime, my teammates just rallied around me and told me to keep playing hard," Wood said. "The pick was frustrating, but our defense was amazing."
Despite having just 27 total yards in the first half, O'Dowd took a 7-3 lead into halftime thanks to the 27-yard interception return for a touchdown by Julian Soto.
The Dragons finished with just 95 yards of offense.
-- Matt Smith, correspondent
College Park 41, Alhambra 41: Ciazonne Foster squirted free from his place on the right end of the line, darted into the backfield and got a full hand on College Park kicker Jason Johnsonbaugh's point-after attempt, preserving what would finish as a season-opening tie between the Falcons and host Alhambra.
It was hardly Foster's only contribution. The running back racked up 143 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. His second score, a 3-yard scamper, tied the game at 21-all in the second quarter.
College Park was poised to take an improbable 42-41 lead after trailing for most of the second half thanks to some stingy defense and another big play by running back Timmy Jackson. He opened the game's scoring with a 44-yard TD run and closed it by sprinting into the end zone from 43 yards out with 4:02 left. He finished with 97 yards on just six carries.
-- Bill Kolb, correspondent
Castro Valley 57, Monte Vista 56, OT: Kevin Galvan was carried off the field by teammates even though, officially, he completed none of his five pass attempts for the Trojans. However, he did complete one unofficial pass -- to Nick Alfaro on a two-point conversion in overtime to win the game for visiting Castro Valley.
The teams staged an offensive shootout to open the season with the Mustangs totaling 500 yards and the Trojans piling up 509 -- all on the ground.
But after Namane Modise ran the ball in from 10 yards out in overtime, Castro Valley coach Nic McMaster decided to go for the win. Even more amazing, he decided to try to win it through the air. Galvan rolled to his right and found Alfaro for the win.
Modise rushed for 222 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries on the night, including on runs of 80 and 62 yards. Teammate Demareyeh Lane rushed for 163 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.
Monte Vista was just as good on offense. Matt Rood rushed for 118 yards and five TDs on 15 carries. Zach Cribb ran for 123 yards and two scores on 14 carries. Quarterback Nikita Zamora completed 15 of 29 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown.
-- Damin Esper, correspondent
Liberty 50, Concord 30: Alex Hull returned back-to-back punts for touchdowns for the host Lions, breaking open a tie game in the fourth quarter against the Minutemen.
Trailing 30-23 entering the final quarter, Liberty quarterback Joseph Tolentino tied it with a 5-yard touchdown run.
After the Lions defense pinned the Minutemen deep in their own territory, Hull broke the tie with a 33-yard punt return. One possession later, Hull returned a punt 68 yards for another score. Tai Tai Canady capped the scoring for the Lions with a 25-yard TD run.
-- Nate Smith, correspondent