REDDING, Calif. – The Knights are the class of the NorCal American Division once again.
B.J. Brown hauled in 9-yard touchdown pass from Trent Darms in the second overtime period and the Shasta defense denied Monterey Peninsula any points to hang on for a 45-38 double overtime victory in the CCCAA NorCal American Division Championship Bowl Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
The Knights (7-3) were one play away from a winless first month of the season, but turned the season around to finish with seven straight wins to capture their second championship in three years.
"Even though we were staring 0-3 in the face, the reality was that we had the talent, we just weren't getting all the pieces of the puzzle together," Shasta College head coach Craig Thompson said. "We kept working on getting a young team to grow and develop and start playing more as a team. Once we got to that point our confidence grew."
Shasta led Golden Coast League champ Monterey 38-24 early in the fourth when DeMarco Grayson ripped off a 27-yard touchdown run. But the Lobos responded with a passing connection that worked all night. Hunter Raquet connected on a 54-yard touchdown to Michael Armstead and the two hooked up with 29 seconds left on a 15-yard touchdown to tie it.
With Monterey's kicker not dressed for the game, the Lobos went for the 2-point conversion but the pass was incomplete.
Shasta held Monterey (7-4) scoreless in the first possession of overtime, opening the door for a victory. After three Justin Hellyer rushing attempts, Kendall Raschein's 32-yard field goal was wide left to force a second OT.
The Knights were more aggressive, as Darms hooked up with Cavin Gillespie for 16-yards to get to the Lobos 9. Two plays later Brown's touchdown and Raschein's extra point put Shasta up seven.
Monterey gained three yards on the opening play but Shasta's Drew Faircloth tipped the fourth down pass to seal the victory.
"Coach (Bryon) Hamilton had to be more aggressive because we had to score to put pressure on Monterey with a big score," Thompson said. "Then our defense played outstanding coverage when we needed it and came together for a few important plays to secure the win."
Darms was named the Offensive Player of the Game, completing 14 of 30 passes for 230 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and ran eight times for 55 yards and a touchdown. Faircloth was the Defensive MVP, finishing with six tackles – two for a loss. Shasta's Player of the Game went to Kenio Mike Jr., who scored twice in the third quarter on kickoff returns of 87 and 85 yards to swing the momentum in the Knights favor.
"We preach in the program that every single play counts – offense, defense and special teams," Thompson said. "Those two key kickoff returns provided us the opportunity to win the game. It was an outstanding effort."
Shasta trailed 12-3 after the opening quarter but got a crucial score before half on Darms' 3-yard run to go ahead 18-12 at the break.
Monterey tied it with one of four touchdown connections from Raquet to Armstead (11 catches, 237 yards, 4 TDs) but Mike kept Shasta ahead with his explosive plays on special teams.
Hellyer was the leading rusher for Shasta with 60 yards on 17 carries to go with three catches for 46 yards. Grayson added 47 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
NOTES…Trent Darms finishes the season with 2,141 passing yards, which is the seventh-most in a single-season in program history…Justin Hellyer ended the year with 730 rushing yards to put him at 1,579 rushing yards for his career, good for fifth all-time for the Knights…Shasta moves to 3-6 in bowl games under Craig Thompson, and 6-14 overall.