photo by Mike Daly
VISALIA – Shasta College's football game snapped its four-game losing streak by pounding host College of Sequoias 45-17 Saturday afternoon at Mineral King Bowl.
The Knights (1-4) recorded season-highs in points (45), rushing yards (253), total yards (430) and first downs (36) in the game as freshman quarterback Hoku-Lani Wickard threw four touchdown passes and sophomore running back Cavin Gillispie racked up 157 yards on the ground, crossing the century mark for the first time in his collegiate career.
"The guys responded and had great focus for the entire trip," said Shasta College head coach Craig Thompson. "They conducted themselves as professionals the entire time. They were down here for a purpose."
Sequoias' starting quarterback Ryan Johnson injured his shoulder on the second play of the game after running for 29 yards and didn't return. That let the Shasta defense sink in and shut down Sequoias throughout the game. The Knights recorded five sacks – one each from Cole Parker, Detrius Kelsall, Torren Calhoun, Payton Harrell and Brannon Litz – and held the Giants to 89 yards rushing in the game and 15 tackles for a loss.
"That helped our defense a lot because that kid was very special and had good speed and could throw the ball well," Thompson said. "That was a big blow to them and our defense flat out responded and was ready to play a great game."
Shasta scored on its opening possession as Wickard lofted a 17-yard pass to Peter St. Fleur for a 17-yard touchdown. Junior Gonzalez matched Sequoias' field goal with a 26-yarder of his own and Shasta tacked on one more score before half with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Wickard to St. Fleur for a 17-3 lead at the break. Gillispie, freshman Matthew McCree and sophomore Johnny Iniguez each churned out big plays on the ground on the drive to set up the score.
"We had good rhythm going," Thompson said. "We established a good downhill running game and kept that going through the entire game. That opened up our passing game when we needed it."
Shasta scored three times in the third for its highest scoring quarter of the season. Gillispie's 34-yard jaunt set up McCree's 10-yard touchdown run, Wickard threw a 16-yard fade pass to sophomore Karnell Collier for a touchdown and Iniguez powered his way in for a 5-yard score to put the Knights up 38-10 with 0:14 remaining in the third quarter.
Ja'Martez Beaudoin forced Sequoias to fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Shasta capitalized two plays later when sophomore receiver Patrick Blake made a one-handed grab over the middle for a 16-yard score to all but seal the game with a 45-10 lead.
Wickard finished 12 of 25 passing for 177 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Blake caught four passes for 87 yards and the score, Gillispie had three catches for 21 yards, St. Fleur's pair of catches went for touchdowns and Collier had two grabs for 23 yards.
Gillispie rushed 20 times for 157 yards while McCree added another 59 yards on 12 carries and Iniguez contributed 40 yards on nine attempts.
Shasta College has its bye week next week and returns to action at home on Oct. 6 to open NorCal Conference play against Sierra College. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. for the Say No More Domestic Violence Awareness Game.