SAN RAMON -- The California High football team used big plays in the first half, both offensively and defensively, to beat crosstown rival Dougherty Valley 37-12 in the first round of the North Coast Section Division I playoffs on Friday night.
As much as big offensive plays stand out, it was the No. 3 seeded Grizzlies (9-2) defense that shined in this game, twice stopping the 14th seeded Wildcats (4-7) inside the five yard line.
"We got exactly what we expected from them because they play hard," California coach Eric Billeci said. "We fumbled on our first two drives which kept it close, but then we got the ball in (Blake Bierwith's) hands and he carried us."
The offense then responded. Following the first stand at the 1-yard line, Bierwith got loose for 62 yards on the very next play, which helped set up his own 17-yard scoring run early in the second quarter.
Later in the quarter, he had a touchdown pass of 66 yards from Matt Lorenz.
Lorenz had two big scoring passes in the quarter, hitting Ryan Groleau for 71 yards with just 9 seconds left before halftime.
That score quelled any Dougherty Valley momentum, as it had just scored seconds earlier on a 9-yard run by Afolabi Adeoti.
Justin Locklear also played a big role in the first half, scoring on a pair of short touchdown runs.
Bierwith led all ball carriers with 134 yards on just eight carries, while Adeoti had 119 to lead the Wildcats.