REDDING, Calif. – Shasta College's defense couldn't have picked a better time to turn in its best performance of the year.
The Knights allowed a season-low 170 yards of offense in a 15-6 home victory over the Yuba College 49ers Saturday night at Memorial Stadium in the Hall of Fame game.
Leading 12-6 early in the fourth quarter, Shasta came up with a goal line stand to deny Yuba a game-tying score. The 49ers converted fourth and 2 to set up first and goal from the Knights 3 yard line. Yuba's Jacob Gildea was stuffed for a loss, Isaiah Rios fumbled the snap, Ariyon Huff's third down catch was for a loss of three, and Rios' fourth down pass fell in complete to shift momentum in Shasta's favor.
The Knights made sure to capitalize.
Shasta marched on a 13-play scoring drive in 8 minutes, 16 seconds, capped by Kendall Raschein's 25-yard field goal with 59 second left to put the game away.
"We had the drive when we needed to," Shasta College head coach Craig Thompson said.
Both teams started hot, trading touchdowns on back-to-back possessions in the opening quarter. Shasta (3-3, 1-1 Pacific 7 League) scored on its third play from scrimmage with quarterback Trent Darms connecting with Jaquez Durham for a 50-yard touchdown. Yuba (5-3, 2-2 Pac 7) answered four plays later with Rios finding a wide open Huff, who raced into the end zone with no one near him for a 47-yard score to tie it at 6.
But the Knights struggled to find consistency on the offensive end. Penalties and breakdowns stalled drives, but Shasta strung together enough plays to pull ahead.
The Knights reached the red zone three times and came away with field goals on all three trips. Raschein hit from 30 yards early in the second quarter and nailed a 19-yarder late in the third to go up 12-6.
Yuba looked like it was going to respond, feeding its bruising running back Gildea nine times on a 15-play drive, including on a fourth down conversion to get inside the 5. But Jacob Anae stuffed Gildea on first down and the 49ers went backward on the next two plays before turning it over on downs.
"When they converted fourth down that let the wind out of our sails for a little bit but the guys responded," Thompson said. "They put pressure on them and played those four plays perfectly."
Needing one long scoring drive, Shasta did just that. Twice Darms extended the Knights' possession on third down, connecting with Patrick Blake for an 18-yard gain on third and eight before scrambling for 12 yards on third and 11. Justin Hellyer and DeMarco Grayson picked up big gains on the ground and Raschein kicked a 25-yarder to go up two scores.
"Our offense delivered after not being able to sustain drives," Thompson said. "They took it all the way down. Coach (Bryon) Hamilton didn't abandon the run game, continued to pound the ball and we got enough protection for Trent, who had a few big conversions for us."
Shasta's Tyreko Mattox picked off Yuba in the final minute on double-pass for his second interception of the game. The Knights only allowed four passing yards in the second half.
"I remember telling my team to work for it, it's not going to come easy," Mattox said. "We stopped it and pulled through for the 'W.'"
Darms finished the game 15 of 27 passing for 210 yards. Grayson led the Knights in rushing with 48 yards on 11 carries while Hellyer totaled 43 yards on 12 attempts. Durham caught five passes for 107 yards, both team-highs, and added 28 rushing yards.
Shasta goes on the road to face San Jose City College Saturday at 3 p.m.