photo by Mike Daly
QUINCY – The Shasta College football team rallied from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit by scoring on all three possessions in the final period to edge Feather River College 44-37 Saturday night.
Johnny Iniguez ran for a 35-yard touchdown with 2:50 remaining but the Knights missed the PAT to keep it tied at 37. Shasta's defense forced a quick 3-and-out and freshman quarterback Hoku-Lani Wickard needed only four plays to find the end zone, connecting with Peter Savrides for a diving 18-yard game-winning touchdown with 50 seconds left.
Feather River reached Shasta's 27 in two plays but turned it over on downs following three straight incomplete passes and a failed trick play and the Knights escape with their fifth straight victory over the Golden Eagles.
"We emphasized the entire week that win or lose we have to grow up this week as a team and minimize stupid penalties and all those things haunt us this season but we stepped up to the challenge," said Shasta College head coach Craig Thompson.
Shasta (1-1 NorCal Conference, 2-5) gained 493 yards of offense in the game, marking the third straight game over 430 yards. Wickard completed 23 of 42 attempts for 330 yards and four touchdowns, two of which went to sophomore Patrick Blake, who ended with 117 yards on six receptions.
Feather River (0-2 NorCal, 2-5) took advantage of the slow-starting Knights, going ahead 9-0 following a short touchdown after blocking a punt. Wickard connected with Blake for a 47-yard touchdown but Feather River scored on the next two drives to lead 23-7. Sophomore wide receiver Karnell Collier sparked the Knights with a long touchdown return, only to fumble into the hands of teammate Virgil Ellis, who took it the final few yards for the score. Shasta added one more touchdown before half, a 7-yard pass from Wickard to Blake to go into the break trailing 23-21.
"Last week we came in and started a new tradition, trying to get everything rolling and everything we did was more of a family thing," said Collier, who had six catches for 121 yards. "As the game got closer we became more of a family and that's what we needed."
Shasta took its first lead of the game on a 16-yard pass from Wickard to Peter St. Fleur midway through the third quarter, but it was short-lived as Feather River's Jaiden Jones busted up the middle for a 6-yard score. Wickard was intercepted on the ensuing drive on a deep pass intended for Blake and the Golden Eagles capitalized with Jones running for a 6-yard score and a 37-28 advantage.
The Knights weren't fazed. Wickard led a 14-play drive capped by Junior Gonzalez's 25-yard field goal to cut it to a one-score game. After a Feather River punt, the Wickard took the Knights down the field in 12 plays with Johnny Iniguez running free on a draw, spinning off a tackler and diving into the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown to knot it at 37.
Shasta's Cole Parker sacked Feather River on second down and the Golden Eagles ended up punting out of their own end zone to set the Knights up on the 30-yard line. Four plays later, Wickard dropped in the game-winning score to Savrides in the right corner of the end zone.
"We needed this victory refuel our tank and get ourselves going and keep everything in a positive direction," Thompson said.
Shasta hosts College of the Siskiyous Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Think Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Game.
Iniguez finished with a season and team-high 78 rushing yards on nine attempts, Cavin Gillispie had 62 rushing yards on 13 carries and Wickard carried the ball a season-high 12 times for 16 yards. In addition to Blake and Collier both going over 100 yards receiving, St. Fleur had two catches for 40 yards and Savrides had three receptions for 35 yards.
Davonte Robertson led the Knights in tackles with 12 while Hunter Margain had seven tackles and Kegan Edwards and Adonis Thomas each had six stops. Torren Calhoun had one sack and one tackle for a loss on his five-tackle day.
NorCal Conference Standings
#4 Butte 2-0, 6-1
American River 2-0, 4-3
Sierra 1-1, 4-3
Shasta 1-1, 2-5
Feather River 0-2, 2-5
Siskiyous 0-2, 1-6