December 4, 2022
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Foltmer wins 300th career game in style – Lake County Record-Bee

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CLOVERDALE — If you think Middletown’s 15-14 overtime victory over Willits a week ago was unbelievable or the Mustangs’ 27-22 come-from-behind win earlier this month at Fort Bragg was really something, those two games combined couldn’t equal the fireworks that transpired Friday night at Cloverdale High School.

Trailing 29-8 in the third quarter, the Middletown Mustangs came all the way back to stun the Cloverdale Eagles 36-29, the 300th career victory for Middletown head coach Bill Foltmer, who watched running back Trenton Griffith, a 125-pound freshman filling in for injured Brandon Costlow, rush for 244 yards and three touchdowns in his varsity debut.

Talk about an impressive varsity debut. Middletown freshman running back Trenton Griffith rushed for 244 yards and three touchdowns Friday night to help lead the Mustangs to a 36-29 victory over Cloverdale, the 300th career win for head coach Bill Foltmer. (Photos courtesy of Geri Costlow)
Talk about an impressive varsity debut. Middletown freshman running back Trenton Griffith rushed for 244 yards and three touchdowns Friday night to help lead the Mustangs to a 36-29 victory over Cloverdale, the 300th career win for head coach Bill Foltmer. (Photos courtesy of Geri Costlow)

“Every kid who has played for me had a part in this,” said Foltmer, who took over in Middletown in 1985 after moving over from Princeton High School in Colusa County where he won his first 19 high school games. “All my coaches over the years, too, including Tim Gill, Gordon Sadler and Bob Schoenherr, contributed to this … and there’s none better than my current coaching staff.”

Middletown (4-1 league, 4-4 overall) was at Cloverdale’s mercy in the final minutes trailing 29-28. Following a Griffth 52-yard touchdown run, his third score of the night, and Griffth’s conversion run that made it a one-point game, Middletown went for the onside kick but Cloverdale recovered.

Cloverdale ran the ball on first down and again on second down, but the ball popped loose and linebacker Jacob Pullman recovered at the Middletown 45-yard line with less than two minutes left. Needing to cover a big chunk of yardage in a short time, the ground-oriented Mustangs went up top as quarterback Hunter Hartzog and wide receiver Troy Taber hooked up on a pass down to the Cloverdale 5.

“It was a 50-50 ball,” Foltmer said of the Hartzog pass. “Troy did a real nice job to come down with it.”

Jacob Urbina scored on a second-and-goal play from the 1-yard line with 25 seconds remaining to put Middletown in front 34-29. Griffith’s conversion run rounded out the scoring and completed a most unlikely comeback, made all the more impressive because it was a huge milestone victory for Foltmer.

Middletown running back Jacob Urbina scores in the first quarter for Middletown. Urbina's 1-yard run with seconds remaining in the fourth quarter put the Mustangs ahead to stay in a 36-29 league win at Cloverdale on Friday night. (Photos courtesy of Geri Costlow)
Middletown running back Jacob Urbina scores in the first quarter for Middletown. Urbina’s 1-yard run with seconds remaining in the fourth quarter put the Mustangs ahead to stay in a 36-29 league win at Cloverdale on Friday night.

“I got the 300 monkey off my back,” Foltmer joked. “I don’t have to worry about that anymore. I’m glad it’s out of the way and we can just go on with the rest of our season.”

Three league win in a row leave the Mustangs in sole possession of second place in the league standings, just one game behind Clear Lake (5-0, 8-0). The win also guarantees that the Mustangs will finish with a winning record in league play with two games remaining, and that should mean a playoff berth.

Middletown was trailing 29-8 when Griffth’s 22-yard run in the third quarter made it 29-14. In the fourth quarter, Griffth scored from 8 yards out with seven minutes remaining, but the Mustangs’ conversion run failed, which left the score at 29-20.

“That was big because now we still needed two scores to win,” Foltmer said of the missed conversion.

Griffith’s 52-yard run and conversion run sliced the deficit to 29-28.

“All they had to do was run out the clock,” Foltmer said of the Eagles after Middletown failed to recover the ensuing onside kick.

Griffith, pressed into service because of a Costlow shoulder injury against Willits, carried the ball 24 times.

“He’s small but tough, a hard runner and fast,” Foltmer said. “Once he gets into the open field you’re not going to catch him.”

Urbina finished with 45 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning score. He also scored in the first quarter on a 3-yard run as Middletown opened up a brief 8-7 lead. Urbina also added the conversion run.

Foltmer said he never expected to be in a position to win 300 games when he inherited a Middletown program in 1985 that wasn’t very good.

“We had a couple of tough seasons at first, but things started to improve. We kept making progress and we starting winning more and more,” he said. “But no, no, I never expected to win 300, not at all.”

Middletown has won four sections championships under Foltmer and has three section runner-up finishes. The Mustangs have posted only two losing seasons since he took over the program, the last one in 1996. His 2001 club went undefeated while capturing the section title.

Cloverdale (3-2, 5-3) led 22-8 at the half and appeared on its way to a victory after going up 29-8 in the third quarter on quarterback Mason Caturegli’s touchdown run.

Middletown finished the game with 300 yards on the ground and another 87 through the air. Taber had four catches for 78 yards, none bigger than his catch late in the fourth quarter to set up the winning touchdown by Urbina.

“This was even more incredible than the Fort Bragg win,” Foltmer said of an Oct. 7 game that saw Middletown score 20 points in six minutes to erase a 22-7 deficit. “I didn’t think we could top that.”

Think again.

 

 



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