Sobrato’s Isaiah Hardy works to bring down Oak Grove’s Nick Bernardo during their away game Friday.

Oak Grove’s Chidobe Awuzie has been a nightmare for opposing defenses all season. After his three-touchdown performance Friday night, Awuzie and the No. 7 he wears for the Eagles might dance through the dreams of the Sobrato Bulldogs.

Awuzie darted across the turf every which way in the team’s Blossom Valley Athletic League encounter in San Jose, piling up 194 yards on just 13 carries to add to the three scores in an Eagles 49-20 victory – which put the division frontrunners one step closer to a league title.

“He’s just so much stronger and faster than everybody. We are actually pretty strong and fast ourselves, but it didn’t matter,” Sobrato head coach Nick Borello said. “That’s how good he is.”

Sobrato (6-3 overall, 4-2 league) came into the contest with aspirations of creating some congestion at the top of the standings, where a result in their favor would have caused a three-way tie for first. Oak Grove (9-0 overall, 6-0 league) instead, padded its lead and controls its own destiny entering next week’s finale against second-place Leland.

Though the night didn’t pan out for Sobrato, with the postseason is fast approaching there is little time to wallow in defeat, Borello said.

“We told the guys to just let this one go. Go ahead and be upset tonight but put it the heck behind you,” Borello said. “We have a lot left to play for. I know we have one more regular season game left, but we could potentially have four more. The playoffs are a whole second season.”

Awuzie, who lined up at receiver, running back and quarterback, scored on runs of 15, 33 and 45-yards – the latter two helping the Eagles pull away late in the third quarter. The Division I college prospect’s cohort in the backfield, Nick Bernardo, did damage himself, churning out 189 yards on 19 touches, including touchdown runs of 8 and 15-yards in the first half.

“(Bernardo) and (Awuzie) are their two best players and they made the difference for them,” Sobrato’s Calvin Tipton said. “They are a good team. Best of luck to them.”

Sobrato’s defense, which eventually yielded 429 rushing yards, kept the Eagles out of the end zone on their first two series.

Awuzie’s lone blemish of the game benefited the Bulldogs in a big way early in the first quarter. A bobbled handoff bounced around the 10-yard line and senior Vince Nguyen picked it up for the scoop and score to vault Sobrato ahead 7-0 two minutes into the game.

“We all flew to the ball, the opportunity came and I just jumped on it,” Nguyen said.

On Oak Grove’s next series, Isaiah Hardy picked off Eagles quarterback Ray Cruz to thwart the drive deep in Bulldogs’ territory. However, Sobrato fumbled away a promising drive of its own at the Eagles 37-yard line. Five plays later, Bernardo tied it with touchdown run No. 1 with 1:22 left in the opening quarter.

Tipton countered the score, returning the ensuing kickoff 84-yards to the end zone, splitting a pair of defenders early in the run before following a slew of blockers.

“It was a short kick. I let it bounce and it came up right into my hands,” Tipton said of his second return in two weeks. “I made a move past those guys and I saw everyone on the right side get their blocks.”

The 14-7 lead did not last long, and Awuzie’s 15-yard run at 10:24 of the second period marked the first of six touchdowns the Eagles scored in as many possessions.

Bernardo’s second of the first half put Oak Grove ahead – for good – at 21-14. Sobrato had a golden opportunity to tie matters at the half, but four plays after a Michael Bocksnick to Hardy 40-yard connection set the Bulldogs up with first and goal from the 10-yard line, Bocksnick was sacked at the 15-yard line as the buzzer sounded. Two plays earlier, Bocksnick just missed a wide-open Nick Hardy in the end zone.

“A little pass protection mistake had a guy in our quarterback’s face and he was forced to make a bad pass,” Borello said. “We felt like we had to go for something there.”

Oak Grove took the first six minutes of the third quarter to travel 80 yards, the final 33 on an Awuzie run, to grab a 28-14 lead. Sobrato used the next five minutes to embark 65 yards – Bocksnick took care of the remaining 13-yards – to get back within one score, 28-20. The Eagles scored three more times in about three minutes, capitalizing on two Sobrato turnovers.

“With a team like that, you give them a few opportunities, the take advantage and run with it,” Borello said.

NOTES: Borello said a win next week against Piedmont Hills should assure the Bulldogs a top-four seed into either the Division II or Division II Central Coast Section playoffs…Sobrato’s Miguel Redmond rushed for 82 yards on 12 carries for an offense that totaled 231 on the night…Awuzie also had an interception and returned a punt that was called back by penalty…

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