photo by Mike Daly
REDDING, Calif. – Shasta College's football team couldn't overcome a slow start to fall to Sierra College 42-29 Saturday in the NorCal Conference opener and the "Say No More to Domestic Violence Awareness Game."
The Knights trailed by 21 with 6:41 left in the third quarter and twice made it a one score game in the final period. But Sierra responded with touchdown throws of 43 and 80 yards to get separation both times from the Knights.
"It was all about energy and we came out flat like we didn't want to be here," said Shasta College quarterback Hoku-Lani Wickard, who threw for 342 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss.
Shasta (0-1 NorCal, 1-5) snapped its five-game winning streak in games following a bye week despite registered a season-high 547 yards of offense. The only Knight points in the first half came from a bad snap on a punt, resulting in a safety. By intermission, Sierra's Ryan Graham had touchdown runs of 52 and 7 yards in the first half and Sierra added a 1-yard touchdown toss for a 20-2 halftime advantage.
Karnell Collier's 6-yard touchdown catch was the offense's first points of the game but Graham matched it with a 62-yard touchdown on a swing pass. Graham totaled 352 yards on his own in the game, rushing for 158 yards and turning his eight receptions into 194 yards in the win.
Shasta scored on its next three drives as Cavin Gillispie punched in a 1-yard touchdown run and Kenio Mike Jr snuck inside the pylon for an 8-yard score to make it 29-22 with 11:14 to go. Sierra responded with a three-play drive as Joshua Farr hauled in a slant over the middle for a 43-yard touchdown. But Gillispie fought his way through a pile on fourth and goal from the 3 for a score to keep it a one-score game.
Once again, Graham was there to lift the Wolverines above the Knights. Graham slipped behind the Shasta defense on a wheel route the next play from scrimmage for an 80-yard touchdown. Four of Sierra's scores came on plays over 40 yards.
"We got the offense going in the second half and got things going defensively but every time we closed the gap we found a way to open the flood gate and give up the big play," said Shasta College head coach Craig Thompson.
Shasta quickly marched down the field to the red zone but Wickard was intercepted at the Sierra 6 to end the threat. The Knights reached the red zone on all seven second half possessions and came away with 27 points, two turnovers and the final possession was the end of the game.
Patrick Blake led the Knights in receiving with eight catches for 127 yards while Peter St. Fleur hauled in seven balls for 95 yards and Collier added five catches for 58 yards and a score. Mike Jr rushed 13 times for 134 yards and added another 36 yards on three receptions and Gillispie scored twice and turned 16 carries into 61 yards and two scores.
Shasta travels to Quincy to take on Feather River Saturday, a team the Knights have a four-game winning streak over.
Team NorCal, Overall
 Butte 1-0, 5-1
Sierra 1-0, 4-2
American River 1-0, 3-3
Feather River 0-1, 2-4
Shasta 0-1, 1-5
Siskiyous 0-1, 1-5