photo by Mike Daly
SACRAMENTO – Shasta College's football team is still searching for its first win since moving up to the National Division as the Knights couldn't snap its losing skid Saturday night in a 40-27 loss to Sacramento City College in a non-conference game.
The Knights have cleaned up the turnovers that held them back through the first couple of games but those mistakes have transitioned into mental errors to stall offensive drives, extend opponents' possessions or erase points off the scoreboard with penalties. Shasta was flagged for a season-high 14 penalties in the loss.
"We continue to make mistakes and have breakdowns and can't seem to get out of our own way," Shasta College head coach Craig Thompson said. "If we want to come out and be competitive at this level, we have a long ways to go."
Shasta (0-4) matched Sac City's scoring in the first half, as sophomore Kenio Mike Jr. scored rushing touchdowns from 4 and 42 yards out. Mike led the Knights in rushing with 58 yards on nine carries. Sophomore receiver Karnell Collier hauled in two big pass plays and quarterback Hoku-Lani Wickard connected with Patrick Blake on routes underneath for chunk plays.
The Knights went into half tied at 14 thanks to a stalwart defensive effort that kept the Panthers (2-2) out of the end zone on a goal line stand at the end of the half.
Shasta's momentum was halted in the third when it turned the ball over on downs and watching Sac City score twice in less than four minutes. The Panthers scored on a 61-yard pass play and then returned a punt 70 yards for the touchdown to lead 27-14 midway through the third. Both of the stalled drives for the Knights included some sort of miscue.
"It's just key mistakes at the wrong times," said Blake, who caught seven passes for 76 yards in the loss. "We're driving down the field and can get whatever we want on offense and the defense is getting stops. It's just critical errors at the wrong times are killing us right now."
Shasta scored late in the third on a 44-yard screen pass from Wickard to Peter St. Fleur to cut it to a one score game. But the spark of life would be short lived. Sac City needed one play to go 61 yards through the air to take a 34-21 lead.
Shasta punted on its next drive and then desperation of trailing by two touchdowns caught up with the Knights as Wickard was intercepted on a route miscommunication and he fumbled on the next play from scrimmage to give the ball back to the Panthers. Sac City kicked field goals of 24 and 33 yards to go up 40-21 with 3:01 left.
"This is a sign of a team that's not ready to be able to handle success well and maintain the momentum and instead, find a way to self-destruct," Thompson said.
Shasta found the end zone before the final whistle as Peter Savrides came down with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Wickard, who ended the game 23 of 31 passing for 311 yards, a pair of scores and the interception.
Collier's 89 receiving yards was a team-high on his five catches. St. Fleur had five receptions for 77 yards and Blake's seven catches went for 76 yards. Hunter Margain's 11 tackles paced the Knights. Zach Thompson had seven tackles and Detrius Kelsall had five stops.
Shasta trails to Visalia on Saturday for its final non-conference matchup against College of the Sequoias for an 11 a.m. kickoff.