Please contact local law enforcement if you have seen Vacaville High School’s offense. It was missing Friday night as the Bulldogs edged Rodriguez 16-14 despite scoring their fewest points in a Monticello Empire League game since 2014.
The Mustangs lost by fewer than 30 points for just the third time in 15 meetings with the Bulldogs since 2008. Vacaville had 191 yards of total offense after averaging 410 in its first 14 games against Rodriguez.
Vacaville had 139 rushing yards, failing to reach 200 for the sixth time in as many games in 2023. The Bulldogs have run for 200 just once in their past 18 games and only six times in their past 34 since 2020.
Put that in perspective. The Bulldogs rushed for 200 or more yards in 32 of their 46 games from 2016 to ’19. And running against Rodriguez has been as easy as mowing the synthetic turf in Tom Zunino Stadium.
The Bulldogs have run for 300 or more yards against the Mustangs in 10 of 15 games and reached 400 six times. Friday’s game was the third in a row that Rodriguez held Vacaville to fewer than 200.
It is hard to believe the Mustangs have finally figured out how to stop the Bulldogs. No MEL team has had success containing Vacaville’s offense even when the Bulldogs were as predictable as the sun rising.
Quarterback Brody Fortunati has struggled since passing for 321 yards and four touchdowns in the opener against Davis. The senior has thrown for a total of 303 yards and three touchdowns in the past five games. He completed six of a season-low 13 attempts for 52 yards and a touchdown on Friday night.
Vacaville has invested considerable time to diversify its offense and the past two seasons suggest as much. The Bulldogs threw the ball 227 times in 2022 and 251 in ’21, the only seasons in the past 10 in which when they reached 200.
From 2013 to ’19, the Bulldogs had at least 300 more rushing attempts than passing in six of seven seasons. The ground game became the team’s trademark when the Bulldogs won Sac-Joaquin Section championships in 2007 (572 rushing attempts to 111 passing) and 2011 (666 rushing to 128 passing).
A run heavy offense has one drawback in that a double-digit deficit will be difficult to overcome because running plays take more time. That explains why a team leading in a game will run to drain the clock.
This season is ticking away for the Bulldogs. They must find and define their offense before time runs out.