MARYSVILLE – Five turnovers and missed tackles on defense doomed Shasta College's football team Saturday in a 40-20 loss to West Hills Coalinga at Yuba College in Marysville.
Trailing 26-20 early in the fourth quarter, the Knights couldn't convert third or fourth down and short from the Falcons' 34 and turned the ball over on downs. West Hills scored on its next two possessions, 36 seconds apart, to pull away from Shasta.
"We had far too many mistakes and (they'll) learn that they will come back to bite them in the butt," Shasta College coach Craig Thompson said.
The game was supposed to be Shasta's home opener and the Hall of Fame Game but the air quality was poor from lingering smoke from the Delta Fire in northern Shasta County and the Knights had to move the game to Yuba College.
Shasta (0-2) played like it was a road game, fumbling on the opening play from scrimmage. West Hills (2-0) found the end zone in four plays later with Kahlil Harshaw breaking four tackles on a 34-yard scoring run less than two minutes into the game. It would be a theme for the day with Shasta's tackling as Harshaw ran for 159 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries and his teammate Dwan James ran for 71 yards and two scores on 14 attempts.
The Knights (0-2) gashed the Falcons for big runs plays of their own from Kenio Mike Jr and Matt McCree but couldn't turn them into points. The next three possessions ended with a fumble, turnover on downs after reaching the red zone and an interception, from quarterback William James, leading to him being replaced by Hokulani Wickard.
West Hills went ahead the play following the interception on a 46-yard deep ball and Harshaw scored on a 1-yard run to lead 20-0.
Wickard gave Shasta life with two pass plays for 76 yards before McCree scored on a 1-yard run. The Knights added a score right out of half on McCree's 12-yard run to trail 20-13. West Hills answered with Dwan James bouncing off tacklers for a 19-yard score and Shasta responded kept it close with a 24-yard pass in the flat to Johnny Iniguez, who took it the rest of the way for a touchdown.
Shasta came up with a stop on defense and Mike's 29-yard run put the Knights in Falcon territory. However, the Knights couldn't advance the ball past the 34 before turning it over on downs. The Falcons scored on a 36-yard run from Harshaw up the middle and on a 1-yard run from James following Wickard's interception at the Shasta 4. Wickard later threw another interception late in the game in the end zone.
"We played like a great football team for parts of that game and look like a team where we can compete with anybody," Shasta sophomore linebacker Zach Thompson said. "We just have to put that together for four quarters, not just a couple of drives at a time."
McCree finished with a team-high 121 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns while Mike Jr ran 15 times for 96 yards. Patrick Blake's six catches (for 32 yards) led the Knights while Karnell Collier caught three passes for 70 yards. Wickard, in a backup role, completed 13 of 22 passes for 159 yards, a TD and a two interceptions. Williams James was 4 for 9 for 25 yards. Shasta's leading tackler was Hunter Margain with 10 tackles, one for a loss. Cole Parker and Logan German were next with six tackles a piece. Torren Calhoun had a pair of sacks for Shasta.
Shasta looks for its first win when it hosts Santa Rosa next week at Memorial Stadium for a 6 p.m. kickoff.