The season of the most successful football team in Del Norte High's history came to an end Saturday afternoon in Novato.
The No. 1 ranked Novato Hornets rolled over the Warriors 58-0.
Novato garnered 476 yards offense, holding the Warriors to a mere 141. Most of Novato's yards initially came through the air, as they threw for 271 yards and 4 touchdowns. With a safe lead, Novato kept to the ground late inthe game, rushing 28 times overall for 205 yards.
The Warriors rushed for 47 yards on 22 carries. They passed for 94 yards, garnering a mere 5 offensive first downs overall.
Del Norte had never reached the regional championship before. They won the conference championship earlier this season.
The Warriors met Novato's dominating defense in the opening seconds of the game, going three and out. The Warriors had returned the ball to the 35 but had to punt on fourth-and-one. Following a good run back on the punt, the Warriors were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The Warriors then met the Hornet's dominating offense. Novato ran the ball into the end zone with 6:47 to go in the first quarter, moving ahead 7-0.
A swarming Novato defense kept the Warriors losing yards on the next drive. Even with a Novato offside penalty on third down, the Warriors couldn't convert. They punted on fourth-and-seven. A good punt with a Del Norte roll, however, out Novato on the Warriors' 27 with 4:11 in the first quarter.
Novato's offense then showed why it's ranked No.1 in the division. After a Del Norte penalty on the drive's opening play, Novato garnered first downs on two consecutive plays, first on a pass and then on a run.
Ross Bertolini missed a chance at an interception when he took his eyes off the ball.
Two missed tackles on another play in the drive allowed Novato to run the ball to the 12-yard line.
Novato had two opportunities for big plays with open receivers, but they couldn't connect. They returned to the ground, running 12 yards into the end zone with 26 seconds left in the quarter.
Ahead 14-0, Novato forced the Warriors to punt as the second quarter began.
Novato took over on the 37. A pass gave Novato a first-and-10 at the 48. But Novato couldn't convert on third-and-eight, resulting in a punt.
Novato's defense remained tough, forcing the Warriors to punt after three plays. One highlight of the drive came when wide receiver Frankie Cardenas broke up an almost certain interception by his Novato defender on third down.
After a completion on the next drive, Novato fumbled. But Novato sacked quarterback Chad Freeman on a blitz, leaving the Warriors with a third-and-18. Freeman ran the ball in a quarterback keeper on third down for minimal gain and punted.
Novato responded by throwing a 59-yard touchdown pass with 3:17 left in the second quarter. The Hornets moved ahead 21-0.
The Warriors went three-and-out then punted on fourth-and-10. But Novato fumbled the punt with the Warriors recovering. On the Warriors' very first play after the punt, though, Freeman threw an interception.
Novato took advantage of its first turnover, tossing a 52 yard pass for a touchdown. With 1:20 before the half, they led 28-0.
As if the game couldn't get worse, Cardenas fumbled with 1:06 left in the second quarter, giving Novato the ball on the 12 yard line. Fortunatley on an ensuing play, the Warriors' Cody Hoffman jumped in front of a Novato receiver and intercepted. Novato stopped him with an ankle tackle at the 21.
At halftime, the Warriors found themselves in a rare position this season: Behind, and by a large margin at that. Novato dominated the first half, garnering 160 yards total offense compared to the Warriors' 46 yards. The Warriors rushed 11 times for a total of 20 yards in the first half. Chad Freeman was 6 of 10 for 26 yards passing.
The Warriors defense toughened up on the third quarter's opening drive. Warriors hold on Novato's opening drive. A big rush by the Warriors on first down cost Novato three yards. But a throw on second down moved the chains for Novato. But the Warriors later stopped a third-down screen pass, forcing a punt.
After the Novato punt, a solid Warriors return brought the ball to the Novato 41. A third-down run, however, left the Warriors a couple of inches short of a first down. The Warriors went for it on fourth down and with a good offensive line push, they picked up the first down. It marked the Warriors' first offensive first down in the game.
After a hold, Del Norte was stuck with a second and 22. Trying to pick up the yardage, Warriors threw. Novato intercepted and ran the ball 70-yards down the sidelines for a touchdown.
Down by 35, the Warriors took the ball over at the 5-yard line following a good kickoff by Novato. A 28-yard pass got the Warriors out of the hole and gave them their second offensive first down of the quarter.
On the very next play, though, the Warriors turned the ball over on an ill-timed, low pitch from Freeman as Novato got great penetration.
But Del Norte held Novato to seven yards and four plays, taking over on downs at their 8.
The Warriors opened up the drive with three great plays. A first-down pass went nine yards to sophomore Taylor Duncan. The next play, a pass, gave the Warriors their third offensive first down. Then the Warriors moved to the 49-yard-line on another pass.
The drive stalled with a run that Novato stuffed then an illegal procedure penalty on Del Norte. A Novato lineman tipped the next pass, leaving the Warriors with third-and-15. A screen pass to Cardenas with no blockers out front cost the Warriors two yards.
Novato began their drive on the 12 following a Warrior punt to begin the fourth quarter. Though the Warriors played tough on defense, Novato was able to get a first down on a third down toss.
A toss following a fake handoff allowed Novato to move the ball to the 48 on the next play.
The very next play, Novato snared a touchdwon as the receiver pulled the ball away from the defender for a 53-yard touchdown. With 9:58 remaining in the fourth quarter, Novato led 42-0.
Then, on the opening play of the Warriors' next drive, Freeman threw an interception. a couple of plays later, Novato scooted untouched for a eight-yard run into the end zone.
The Warriors went three-and-out following Novato's kickoff. With 7:24 in the game and down 49-0, the Warriors found themselves in a punting situation yet again.
Novato put in its backup quarterback to start the drive. The Warriors kept in the first-team defense. Still, Novato moved the chains by staying on the ground. With 4:39 left in the game, Novato scrambled for a 14-yard touchdown run and went up 56-0.
Del Norte took the ball over the 13 as a 10-yard unnecessary roughness call on the kickoff return set the Warriors back. On the opening play, the Warriors lost another 5 yards on a delay of game penalty. Running plays left the Warriors deep in their half of the field.
With 2:11 in the game, Novato blocked the punt. As the ball rolled out the back of the end zone, Novato scored a safety and extended their lead to 58-0.
Both the Warriors and Novato substituted players on the last drive. Novato opted to take a knee each play and let the clock run out.
Novato 58, Del Norte 0
at Novato High School
Novato - 14 14 7 23
Del Norte - 0 0 0 0
First Quarter N-Edwards 1-yard run (Copeland kick) 6:47
N-Nicolini 14-yard pass from Senhaux (Copeland kick )0:26
N-Peters 57-yard pass from Senhaux (Copeland kick) 3:47
N-Davis 47-yard pass from Senhauz (Copeland kick) 1:20
N-Pingatore 52-yard interception (Copeland kick) 7:03
N-Peters 52-yard pass from Senhaux (Copeland kick) 9:58
N-Campas 8-yard run (Copeland kick) 9:09
N-Edwards 18-yard run
(Copeland kick) 4:39