PLEASANTON -- The Foothill High football team earned its first postseason win since 2009, beating Deer Valley 28-17 on Friday in the first round of the North Coast Section Division I playoffs.
The No. 7 seeded Falcons will play at No. 2 California (8-2) in next Friday's quarterfinals. The Grizzlies had a first-round bye.
Senior Griffith Gates rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 10 minutes, 50 seconds left, but it was the Foothill defense that pulled out the biggest plays at the end.
The Falcons (6-5) entered the fourth quarter down 17-14, then shut out the No. 10 Wolverines (6-5) the rest of the way.
No play was bigger than sophomore Isaiah Langley's interception with three minutes remaining and Foothill clinging to a 21-17 lead. Langley returned the pick to the Wolverines' 26-yard line, setting up an eventual 20-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Kearns to Jack Finney on fourth down to all but seal the win.
"Our sideline was cheering so loud, it meant so much," Gates said of Langley's interception. "(Deer Valley has) a good offense, and when you get a break like that and a sophomore steps up and makes a great play, you can't be more happy."
The Falcons forced three Deer Valley turnovers and didn't commit any.
Foothill used a methodical running game to control the clock against the speedy Wolverines, especially in the first half, and took a 14-10 lead into the locker room.
"We were trying to keep them from having the ball -- they can't score if we have the ball," Gates said. "It worked out well. We knew our (offensive) line was better than their (defensive) line."
Deer Valley quarterback Simba Webster, who passed for 2,056 yards during the regular season, threw for 241 yards against Foothill. He threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to his brother, Nzuzi Webster, that gave the Wolverines a 17-14 lead midway through the third quarter. But that was the only lead of the day for Deer Valley, which entered the playoffs on a three-game losing streak.
Kearns, Foothill's sophomore quarterback, was 9 of 17 for 141 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions in his playoff debut. All but 16 of those yards came in the second half.
Foothill's Jamirr Holland added 66 rushing yards and a 9-yard touchdown run.