Through nearly a decade of Sobrato football, the Bulldogs never quite experienced anything like Saturday night in the Division III Central Coast Section first round game.

For the first time since the Bulldogs took the field in 2005, Sobrato (8-3) advanced past the opening round of the playoffs, forcing four turnovers in a 40-17 victory over Archbishop Riordan.

But from the celebration following the final seconds of the game – which included a Gatorade bath for head coach Nick Borello and a team picture – the first round win meant a lot more than a postseason victory over a West Catholic Athletic League opponent.

“It’s a milestone,” Borello said. “We are very proud of the work that we’ve done. A lot of programs work hard like we do, but you don’t always get to see the fruits of the labors … It speaks volumes to the work that everyone in the program does. We’ll be happy here tonight but we will get to work tomorrow. “

The game almost seemed like a victory lap for the Bulldogs, who jumped on Riordan within the game’s first two minutes. To gain the early advantage, Sobrato started off aggressive, forcing the Crusaders into a mistake on the opening kickoff.

On a wet and sloppy field, Sobrato kicked a short bouncing ball that Riordan’s Oscar Picazo could never control. It jumped into the air before the Bulldogs picked it up on the 30-yard line.

“It was definitely a tone setter there,” Borello said. “We took a shot and took a chance and see if they would make a mistake early on and they did. It definitely got us rolling … There wasn’t much special about that play and they made a mistake. “

It was a mistake the Bulldogs capitalized on quickly.

After converting on a fourth down play thanks to a 26-yard completion from quarterback Michael Bocksnick to Andrew Mesa, running back Drew Glines put the Bulldogs on the board with a six-yard touchdown run.

“That was good because I told the guys the West Catholic teams get after it quick, and we have to do the same,” Glines said. “Sometimes we have bad starts and sometimes we have bad ends but we needed to get off to a good start and get on them. That was huge for the whole game.

Through the next four quarter, Sobrato never relinquished that lead.

The Crusaders did answer back with a field goal, following a 47-yard run by quarterback Chris Hall. But thanks to a turnover-creating defense that was as close as Riordan would get.

Sobrato added one more touchdown before the close of the first quarter after Bocksnick broke away from Riordan tacklers for a 42-yard run, bringing the Bulldogs into Crusader territory. Glines, who finished with a pair of touchdowns and 24 yards on the ground, capped off the drive with a three-yard run to give the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead.

Bocksnick was brilliant for the Bulldogs, going 9-for-15 through the air for 146 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, Bocksnick finished with a team-high 120 yards and one touchdown on seven carries.

Receiver Jojo Nunn was just as dynamic for the Bulldogs. The junior finished with four catches for 45 yards and three touchdowns. He was unstoppable in the red zone as Riordan couldn’t stop the Bulldogs’ quick slant to Nunn.

Bocksnick hit Nunn twice on similar plays for touchdowns of 10 and eight yards.

“The slant route was there because the free safety wasn’t there,” Nunn said. “It was easy for me to get into the end zone.”

Nunn’s first score came early in the second quarter to build the Bulldog lead to 20-3. He scored two more times in the third quarter, after the Bulldogs forced three more Riordan turnovers to pull away. By the end of three quarter, Sobrato led 33-10 and was in complete control of the game.

“I mean we really worked hard this week,” Nunn said. “No breaks at all. We are out there every morning … How we prepared for this game was mostly defense. Our defense really did well tonight but we are going to have to work harder for Valley Christian next week. But for the most part we came thought and our offense played really great.“

On defense, the Bulldogs had issues bringing down David Tre’ Gunther, who ran for a game-high 172 yards, but Sobrato made the stops when they needed to. Overall, Riordan ran the ball well, finishing with two 100-yard runners (Gunther and Hall) and 377 yards of total offense. But they couldn’t hold onto the ball.

“We just kept playing,” Nick Hardy said. “We had a nice little game plan. They put us in the right position. And we just did a lot of executing. We executed all night and that’s why we won. It just showed that hard work paid off. We just have to move forward.”

It was the turnovers that made the difference, Borello said.

“Our defense, they’ve had ups and downs this year and they work really hard every week with the game plan,” Borello said. “And they did a great job with the plan this week. And a great job with adjustments that were in the game. We are pretty happy with the overall performance.”

On offense, the Bulldogs relied on heavy doses of Miguel Redmond (13 carries for 62 yards) and Mesa (10 carries for 26) yards to control the clock. Overall, Sobrato finished with 369 yards of total offense.

The victory propels Sobrato into the second round where the team will host Valley Christian at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Warriors (5-6) defeated Burlingame 56-14 to advance.

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