Salinas, Calif. – Shasta College's football team fell on the road to Hartnell 25-20 Saturday at Rabobank Stadium.
The Knights were slowed on offense with 18 penalties, yet still played with a revived defensive attitude in the fourth quarter only for their late comeback to fall short.
Trailing 25-13 midway through the final period, Shasta's 13-play drive stalled at the Hartnell 10-yard line. The Knights quickly forced a punt to get the ball back and quarterback Trent Darms orchestrated a seven-play scoring drive, capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass to B.J. Brown to pull within five.
However, the Panthers (1-1) recovered the onside kick to preserve the win.
Shasta (0-1) had its original season opener on Sept. 2 against West Hills postponed due to poor air quality from nearby fires.
Despite the extra week layoff, the Knights matched the Panthers from the start. After an 83-yard Hartnell touchdown pass, Gio Lakmann hopped on a Darms fumble in the end zone for an odd fumble recovery for a score.
It would be the only points of the half for the Knights as they surrendered a safety on a blocked punt midway through the opening period, and an 80-yard touchdown pass from Devin Daich to Lasalle Mensah to go into the break trailing 15-6.
The Knights' defense tightened up after that with a blocked field goal and blocked punt that was returned for a score by Jarod Fountain. But an early celebration led to a flag to negate the points, and Shasta ended up missing a 41-yard field goal on the possession. The Knights also finished with four sacks on the day, two by sophomore defensive end Logan Levier.
Shasta found pay dirt to start the third quarter with Darms stretching for the goal line on a 14-yard run to make it 15-13.
Darms finished the game 21 of 47 passing for 195 yards, nine rushing yards on 10 carries and the touchdown. He was sacked three times.
"It took us awhile to get going but we took the ball and scored right out of half to get momentum in our favor," said Shasta head coach Craig Thompson.
Hartnell extended its lead to 25-13 with 8:19 remaining on a 29-yard touchdown strike from Daich and a 24-yard field goal. Zach Thompson intercepted Daich to give Shasta's offense an extra opportunity but the Knights were unable to answer, punting on three straight possessions after Darms' scoring run.
The Knights marched on their 13-play drive, but three false start penalties forced them to go backward – a theme of the day – resulting in zero points despite five plays inside the Panther 5.
"We have a young and inexperienced team and were very overwhelmed at times," Thompson said. "We have to find a way to get the young men to accelerate the growth curve a little bit and play at the level we know they can play at."
Shasta later answered with a touchdown connection from Darms to Brown to make it a one-score contest. Although Hartnell recovered the onside kick to hang on for the win, Thompson was impressed with his young team's fight late in the game.
"I'm proud of the team for not giving up," Thompson said. "We had some stupid things where we shot ourselves in the foot but they overcame that and didn't quit to put us in a position there at the end where we had a chance. Unfortunately, it was a little too late."
Justin Hellyer led the Knights in total yards with 116 (60 rushing, 56 receiving) on 17 total touches, and Lakmann had a team-best seven receptions for 84 yards.
photo by Mike Daly