photo by Tracy Ranney
SACRAMENTO – For the second straight week, a second-half letdown prevented the Knights football team from a NorCal Conference victory.
Shasta College was shut out in the second half and allowed host No. 24 American River College to score 30 straight points in Saturday's 44-17 road loss. The Knights drop to 1-3 in NorCal Conference play and 2-7 overall.
The Knights traded scores with the perennial powerhouse Beavers (3-1 NorCal, 5-4) throughout the first half with five lead changes. Shasta went ahead 3-0 on a Junior Gonzalez 33-yard field goal following an ARC turnover. Knights Quarterback Hoku-Lani Wickard responded to ARC's 42-yard touchdown with an 8-yard scoring throw to Karnell Collier to go up 10-7. The Beavers added an 81-yard throw from Marco Baldacchino but Wickard connected with Barry Bolden for a 21-yard touchdown to go up 17-14.
"It's fantastic to see a team come out and play with fire against a team that has been dominant in the conference the last four years," said Craig Thompson, Shasta College's head coach.
The Beavers took the lead for good on a 36-yard pass from Baldacchino to Naequan Parker late in the second quarter. Shasta's Carson Marx came up with an interception on the final play of the half but the Knights couldn't carry the momentum into the third quarter.
Shasta punted its first drive out of the half and the next four drives all started inside the Knights own 20 at the 17, 3, 3 and 8. It turned into nine points for the ARC defense as Wickard was called for intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety and another one of his passes was batted into the hands of ARC's Chimobi Nwokocha, who returned it five yards for a pick-6.
Baldacchino took advantage of a short punt and hooked up with Brandon McCarter Jr. for a 36-yard touchdown on the next possession for a 37-17 advantage late in the third quarter. ARC added a 10-yard touchdown throw in the fourth and Shasta never got the ball past midfield on its final three drives.
"We battled for 30 minutes and things got sideways on us the second half," Thompson said. "We had lousy field position, gave up a couple of big plays and next thing we know we give up 16 points in the third quarter and it got away from us."
Wickard completed 16 of 29 passes for 221 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while backup quarterback Kody Karpinski played the final five series of the game, throwing for 55 yards on 3 of 7 passing. Shasta's Collier had his third straight 100-yard receiving game, finishing with nine catches for 137 yards and a score. Patrick Blake turned three receptions into 47 yards in a limited role with an ankle injury and Cavin Gillispie ran for 88 yards on 15 carries and caught three passes for 52 yards.
The Knights were outgained 487-346.
Shasta wraps up the season with a home game Saturday at 6 p.m. against No. 4 Butte.
NorCal Conference Standings
Team NorCal, Overall
#4 Butte 4-0, 8-1
#24 American River 3-1, 5-4
Sierra 2-2, 5-4
Siskiyous 2-2, 3-6
Shasta 1-3, 2-7
Feather River 0-4, 2-7