By Ray Hamill — The Eureka Loggers closed out a second consecutive perfect regular season with a comfortable 42-13 win at Fortuna on Friday night.
With the win, their 21st straight in the regular season, the Loggers improved to 10-0 on the year, and clinched the Big 4 outright, their second straight league title.
The Loggers had to overcome an inspired Huskies performance, as the home team kept things close early and could have taken a lead into the interval but for some costly turnovers.
The Loggers led 14-7 at halftime and scored four second-half touchdowns to pull away.
“Their program has a lot of pride,” Eureka head coach Jason White said of the Huskies, who had lost two straight coming into the game. “They came out and fought. My hat’s off to them. That was not an easy win for us.”
The Huskies moved the ball more effectively than most teams have managed against Eureka this season, but turnovers and some big defensive stands by the visitors kept them to just two touchdowns on the night.
“Our kids responded,” White said.
Big night for Dunn
Lamarie Dunn had a big night for the Loggers, scoring on a 52-yard reception early in the second quarter to capitalize on a Zach Reed interception, which he returned to midfield.
“He had a great night,” White said of Dunn, who added a 30-yard TD reception in the second half, and had a lot of yards after catch. “It was his best night of the year.”
Weir opened the scoring on Eureka’s third possession, after an impressive Huskies defense had held the high-powered Loggers offense to a pair of three-and-outs to start the game.
Weir, who appears to be growing stronger as the season goes on and leads the Loggers in carries and rushing yards, took a screen pass 56 yards to open the scoring.
It set the tone for his night.
“Robert Weir had some great runs on the screen,” White said. “Maybe some of the best runs I’ve seen all year.”
Trailing 14-0, however, the home team responded by marching 72 yards and scoring on a Zac Claus pass to Jordan Bennett, who scored from 15 yards out.
Big defensive stand
The Huskies threatened to tie things up almost immediately after that, when they recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and quickly drove to the Eureka one-yard line.
A big defensive stand by Eureka, however, ended in a fumble recovery for the visitors at the one on a third-and-goal.
“Our defense came up big in the red zone a couple of times,” White said. “(Linebacker) Tyce Mullins was great again tonight.”
Alex Miller and Casey Sidoti each had a second-half touchdown run for the Loggers.
The Huskies came out strong in the second half and were moving the ball well, before their third turnover of the game at midfield, and the Loggers immediately drove downfield, scoring on Miller’s TD run.
After that, there was no way back for the Huskies.
Claus completed 11-of-20 passes for 166 yards, one touchdown and a pair of interceptions.
Joey Pontes had a productive night for Fortuna with 78 yards rushing and 65 yards receiving, while Dray Boyd scored on a 70-yard touchdown run.
For Eureka, senior quarterback Cruz Montana had three TD passes.
“Cruz handled the pressure well, and our offensive line played great,” White said.
The Loggers are now the first repeat champions in the Big 4 since they did it themselves back in 2010, but this group stands apart as the first in a long time to put together back-to-back perfect regular seasons.
“I don’t know the last time two Eureka teams did that,” the head coach said.
The Loggers will now turn their attention toward the North Coast Section playoffs, where they should be seeded second in Division-III, which will give them a home game to open.
Fortuna should also be seeded high in Division IV, and should also get a home game next week.
The NCS playoff fields will be announced on Sunday.