REDDING, Calif. – For back-to-back weeks, turnovers hampered the Knights' offense and led to a third straight home loss as the #23 Shasta College football team fell 23-14 to Santa Rosa Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
The Knights turned the ball over on their first three drives – two fumbles and a blocked punt – the latter led to Bear Cub points. Despite going into intermission tied at 7, Santa Rosa scored on two of its first three drives of the second half and sacked quarterback Toren Tuttle in the end zone for a safety in the final minutes to seal its first victory of the year.
Shasta (1-3 NorCal Conference, 4-4) entered as a top 10 rushing team in the state led by sophomore Tyler Boston. But Santa Rosa (1-2 NorCal, 1-7) keyed on the ground attack, opening up the passing lanes for Shasta to take advantage through the air. Tuttle completed a career-high 24 of 39 passes to 10 different receivers for 277 yards and employed a vertical passing attack that had missing from the Knights' repertoire so far this season.
However, a handful of dropped passes on long passes shifted momentum and Shasta gave the ball away multiple times when the offense appeared to get in a rhythm.
"We don't establish things and when we do establish ourselves it's self-sabotage," Shasta College head coach Bryon Hamilton said. "We go out and turn ball over, young team struggling offensively, especially with turnovers, we need those big plays to get momentum and excitement."
The blocked punt set Santa Rosa up at the Shasta 9 and the Bear Cubs scored on the ensuing play with a touchdown run from Rasheed Rankin for a 7-0 first quarter lead.
Shasta evened it at 7 with 9:02 to go in the second period when Miles Wilson muscled his way on a 19-yard touchdown run, dragging a couple of Santa Rosa defenders to the goal line.
The Knights' defense held tight on a goal line stand before half to give them momentum going into the break. But it was short lived as Shasta went three-and-out to start the third and allowed a 12-play, 78-yard scoring drive capped by a 34-yard touchdown pass from Jake Simmons to Micha Fontenot, who hauled in a jump ball with one-on-one coverage in the end zone.
Shasta fumbled deep in its own territory at the end of the third, giving Santa Rosa the ball at the Knight 3. Simmons found pay dirt on a quarterback keeper to go up 21-7.
"We don't have enough guys making those (big-time) plays," Hamilton said. "We're not taking advantage of opportunities and putting our defense in bad spot and letting teams hang around."
The Knights' Leslie Cummings recovered a muffed punt near midfield but failed to capitalize and loss after two penalties backed them up and had to punt.
Shasta's defense forced a quick three-and-out to give the offense the ball back. Tuttle marched the Knights on a 68-yard touchdown drive, hooking up with Cummings on a 39-yard pass before feeding Boston on a 10-yard swing pass for a touchdown to make it a one-score game.
The Knights defense once again forced a quick punt to give Shasta the ball on its own 2 with 1:24 to go and no timeouts remaining. But Tuttle was sacked in the end zone by TJ Tallamoni-Marcks for a safety.
Shasta's defense held Santa Rosa to 248 yards including 1.9 yards per rush. Anthony Slayton had a team-best 12 tackles and sophomore London McCall recorded a pair of sacks as part of his five tackles. CJ Williams, Tavian Wallace, Aiden Allsop and JaQuay Mills each had five tackles.
Wilson led the Knights in rushing with 33 yards on four attempts while Shasta's backfield duo of Boston and Jayden Gordon combined for 12 carries for seven yards. Tyler Carey led the team in receiving with 53 yards on four catches and Josiah Graham hauled in five passes for 50 yards.
The Knights play Saturday at 1 p.m. at rival Butte College, which is vying for a conference title.
Butte 42, Siskiyous 7
Sierra 42, American River 34
Santa Rosa 23, Shasta 14
Team NorCal, Overall
#11 American River 3-1, 5-4
#15 Butte 3-1, 5-4
#19 Sierra 2-1, 5-3
Santa Rosa 1-2, 1-7
#23 Shasta 1-3, 4-4
Siskiyous 0-2, 1-6
Photo Credit: Mike Daly