QUINCY — A defensive battle turned into a last-man standing affair as Shasta College got a late touchdown to take the lead and relied on its defense to pull out a 24-17 road win over Feather River College on Saturday. Knights coverage is presented by Shasta Orthopaedics.
The Golden Eagles and Knights battled to a 0-0 halftime tie as each offense moved the ball at will from 20 to 20. But offensive miscues from the Knights (2-1) kept them out of the end zone while the Golden Eagles ran into the Gang Green Shasta defense that held firm on four red zone stands. Each team missed a field goal in the opening 30 minutes of play.
The second half? Well, that was a different story.
Tyler Boston broke the ice on the second play of the third quarter for the Knights, bursting 73 yards off tackle for the score. Once he got past the second level, Boston was in a footrace with the Feather River DB and was sprung for the score by a great downfield block by Dante Harris that put Shasta up 7-0 51 seconds into the half.
“For us the whole week off we slowed down and it took us out of how we should be playing,” said Boston, a sophomore from Dixon. “It took a toll on us in the first half. The second half we got our gears turning and (Knights head coach Bryon) Hamilton was getting on us to turn it around.”
The Golden Eagles (1-2), who came on strong in the second half two weeks ago in a 31-21 loss to the Knights (2-1), answered with a 10-play drive that ended with a 43-yard Chysen Lagunes-Rapozo field goal.
On the ensuing drive, the Knights drove into the red zone on the back of big runs by Boston and freshman Jayden Gordon. Boston finished with more than 200 yards rushing on 21 carries while Gordon was effective in both the run and pass game.
“(Boston) has really great balance and is durable and when you have other backs with Vinny (Smith) and Jayden (Gordon) – it just adds to the depth and allows Tyler to rest,” said Hamilton. “Most guys when they bust a 60-yarder are gassed and don’t play the next series but we don’t have that drop off.
“Jayden did a great job of hitting the whole, keeping things moving and being quick and Vinny is just a bull.”
Boston started the drive with a 21-yard scamper and Gordon’s 25-yard run set Shasta up with first-and-10 from the 14. But a miscue two plays later gave the ball back to Feather River as quarterback Toren Tuttle’s option pitch to Boston was mishandled and the Golden Eagles pounced on the turnover.
The hosts drove to Shasta territory, but the Knights’ defense held firm on a fourth-and-one QB sneak by Jared Taylor, but the Golden Eagles’ returned the favor four plays later as coach Hamilton elected to go for a fourth-and-eight on the FRC 33.
“I went for it there and committed a Cardinal sin but I felt like with us playing on the road with our physicality and ability to run the football against a team that’s now given up 700 yards rushing to us in two games then that was a gamble I wanted to take,” Hamilton said. “Their guy shot the gap and we didn’t block him.”
Three plays after taking over on downs, the Golden Eagles took their first lead, 10-7, as Taylor took the QB keeper up the gut untouched for a 36-yard score.
And following the third-quarter theme of scoring at will, Shasta answered with a five-play drive that covered 80 yards and was capped by a Vinny Smith 8-yard dive. But the 14-10 lead was short-lived as Feather River marched right back and needed three plays as Taylor hit Da’Jon Thomas on a curl route that the speedster took the rest of the way for a 90-yard TD and a 17-14 edge.
Both offenses cooled off as the third quarter gave way to the final period, but the Shasta defense remained hot as Tyrese Randall blocked a 51-yard Lagunes-Rapozo field goal effort two Feather River possessions into the final stanza.
The next Knights possession the visitors would get the equalizer on a 23-yard Dennis Perez boot with just under five minutes to play.
And as it did on Feather River’s previous possession, the defense set up the offense for what proved to be the go-ahead score. On the Golden Eagles’ second play after the tying field goal, Taylor connected with Jacob Backus on a crossing route, but safety Noah Benson crushed the wideout and dislodged the ball, allowing lineman Isaiah Moore pounced on the ball at the Feather River 40 with under three minutes remaining.
Taking their time, the Knights ran the ball on four of the drive’s first five plays. Boston went for two yards, Tuttle hit Josiah Graham for a 13-yard pickup on second-and-eight, followed by two more Boston runs. With 90 seconds left, Boston ran off left tackle, but fumbled the ball only to have fullback Nathaniel Wilson fall on it for the Knights.
Feather River used two timeouts hoping to have time should the Knights score, which they did as Boston took the handoff, ran right and slipped a tackle before finishing the 7-yard TD run with 44 seconds remaining.
And with the Knights up 24-17, the defense made one final statement as Feather River faced desperation time. As Taylor dropped back on the first Feather River play, Randall hit Taylor forcing a fumble recovered by Dermont Morgan that sealed the victory.
The Knights travel to Siskiyous on Saturday while the Golden Eagles are on a bye.