WEED, Calif. – Shasta College rallied from a 24-point second-half deficit, including 17 points in the fourth quarter to beat College of the Siskiyous 52-51 Saturday and clinch the NorCal Conference championship.
The Eagles completed a fourth down pass and reached the Knights' 29-yard line on a pass from O.J. Calleja to Ted Wickman. But Siskiyous' potential game-winning 46-yard field goal on the final play of the game was blocked by sophomore London McCall to give Shasta the victory.
"I kept telling them to believe and believe…we never stopped competing," said McCall.
Siskiyous (1-2) struck first but Shasta (3-1) went up 14-6 on back-to-back scoring drives caped by Tyler Boston's 1-yard plunge and a 15-yard pass from Toren Tuttle to Josiah Graham. The Eagles answered with a 2-yard pass from Calleja to Jordan Cummings, a 25-yard field goal from Noah Silverthorne and a 5-yard touchdown pass from Calleja to Kazontae Thomas to go into half up 23-14.
Siskiyous scored on its first three drives of the second half. Calleja threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Haulcy on the first play of the third quarter, a blocked punt set up Calleja's 10-yard touchdown run and Haulcy turned a deep comeback route into a 48-yard score.
Vinny Smith sparked the Knights with a 65-yard touchdown run but they were trailing 45-21 until late in the third quarter. Boston broke a tackle and raced 35-yards for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 17 with 2:34 in the period.
The Knights' defense only allowed one first down across six straight second-half drives, allowing the offense to get more scoring opportunities. Tuttle connected with Tyler Carey for a 4-yard touchdown and later a 49-yard gain that set up Smith to find paydirt from 3 yards out to make it 45-42.
"What happens when you give up a lot of points is you lose momentum and you don't get that energy and it's hard to generate that," said Shasta College head coach Bryon Hamilton. "The fact we were able to do that with pressure packages and started to get after people in the second half with blitzes caused them to get out of rhythm.
"It fed our energy and defense when we really needed it and they just locked things down."
A botched snap sailed over the Siskiyous' punter gave Shasta the ball at the Siskiyous 9. Two plays later, Tuttle rolled left and fired a strike to Gentry Cox in the back of the end zone for a 49-45 lead with 4:50 to go.
"When you have a coach like coach Hamilton preaching to never give up you tend to listen because good things like that happen," said Tuttle. "When we need some momentum, it's always going to be big plays."
The Eagles answered with a 75-yard scoring drive that took only five plays with Haulcy hauling in a 55-yard touchdown for Siskiyous to regain the lead 51-49. The extra point was missed, which would eventually prove costly.
Shasta failed to convert on fourth-and-eight from the Siskiyou 43 but the defense came up with three stops to force a punt. Spade blocked the punt, giving Shasta the ball at the Siskiyou 28 with 1:09 left. Perez split the uprights to give the Knights a 52-51 lead with 49 seconds left.
Calleja converted fourth-and-eight and later threw a jump ball to Wickman that went for 29 yards to the 29. But McCall got his hand on the low field goal attempt and Shasta celebrated the conference championship in the shortened spring season.
Tuttle completed 33-of-50 passes for 376 yards and three touchdowns while the Knights rushed for 200 yards, led by Boston's 89 yards on 22 carries and Smith's 87 yards on seven attempts. Carey's three catches went for a team-best 83 yards, Dante Harris caught three passes for 68 yards, Cox turned four receptions into 57 yards, Boston added 10 catches for 46 yards and Nathaniel Wilson caught five passes for 49 yards.
Feather River 1-2
*Feather River at Siskiyous on April 10
Video and Photo Credit: Mike Daly