WEED – If redemption had a swan song, the Knights found its tune just in time.
Shasta College’s football team rallied from a 24-point, second-half deficit, including 17 in the fourth quarter, to edge host College of the Siskiyous 52-51 Saturday to finish out the spring 2021 season as the NorCal champions.
King Spade blocked a Siskiyous punt to set up Dennis Perez’s go-ahead 37-yard field goal with 49 seconds left. With Siskiyous’ Hail Mary victory from four weeks ago permanently parked in Shasta’s memory bank, the Knights didn’t let history repeat itself.
But it wasn’t without a scare.
O.J. Calleja connected with Ted Wickman to get the ball down to the Shasta 29. Siskyous clocked it and threw a downfield incompletion, leaving 1 second on the clock. The Eagles’ Noah Silverthorne lined up for a 46-yard game-winning field goal but sophomore London McCall blocked it to complete the improbable comeback for Shasta (3-1).
“I kept telling them to believe and believe…we never stopped competing,” said McCall, a Georgia native.
Siskiyous (1-2) appeared to pull away in the third, scoring on three straight drives and blocking a punt to open the second half.
But it didn’t deter Shasta’s fight. The Knights forced five three-and-outs across six straight drives, allowing only one first down in that span.
“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.”
The newfound defensive success carried over to the offense. And the Knights took full advantage of extra scoring opportunities.
Vinny Smith ignited the away bench with a 65-yard touchdown run, sprung by a downfield block by quarterback Toren Tuttle.
Tyler Boston later raced 35 yards for a touchdown and Tuttle found his rhythm with freshman receiver Tyler Carey as the Knights marched on three scoring drives across the next four possessions.
Tuttle threw a 4-yard out route to Carey for a touchdown, Smith bulldozed his way in from 3-yards out for a score and Tuttle found Gentry Cox in the back of the end zone for touchdown to give Shasta 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, who completed 33-of-50 passes for 376 yards and three touchdowns.
“When we need some momentum, it’s always going to be big plays.”
Siskiyous wasn’t done yet either.
Calleja returned after giving way to backup Hunter Davis and threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Haulcy to regain the lead at 51-49 with 3:43 to go. However, the Eagles missed the extra point, which would later prove costly.
The Knights turned it over on downs the following possession with Tuttle’s fourth-and-eight pass going for only three yards. But Hamilton managed to save his three timeouts in case the Knights were in this position and used them to help the defense force a punt. Spade got two hands on the punt block to set Shasta up at the Siskiyous 28.
The drive stalled but Hamilton called on Perez, who made his previous extra point kick on a ricochet off his lineman’s helmet. The freshman from Las Vegas split the uprights with ease, leaving it up to the defense for one more stop.
“I work better under pressure,” Perez said.
— ShastaCountySports (@ShastaCoSports) April 3, 2021
Like the previous meeting, the Eagles completed a fourth down pass with Calleja finding Kazontae Thomas over the middle for a 15-yard gain. Two plays later Wickman, who caught the game-winning Hail Mary, hauled in a jump ball to flip the field and set the Eagles up at the Knights 29 for a manageable shot at another game-winner.
Siskiyous couldn’t get any closer. The Eagles set up for a 46-yard field goal but McCall, who switched from offense in 2019 to defensive line this season, shot the gap to block it for the win.
— ShastaCountySports (@ShastaCoSports) April 3, 2021
“We’ve been in this position before, this was a revenge game,” said Tyrese Randall, a sophomore from Virginia. “We wanted to come out here and make sure that we got that Dub by any means necessary so we came out, we battled and we won.”
Boston rushed for 89 yards on 22 attempts with scoring runs of 1 and 35 yards and he finished with 10 catches for 46 yards. Smith added 87 rushing yards on seven carries.
Carey led Shasta in receiving with 82 yards on four catches, Dante Harris caught three passes for 68 yards, Cox turned four receptions into 57 yards, Nathaniel Wilson caught five passes for 49 yards and Josiah Graham caught a 15-yard score.
Siskiyous passed for 413 yards and six touchdowns with Calleja going 21-of-34 for 353 yards and five scores. Haulcy’s four catches went for 207 yards and three touchdowns.
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