SACRAMENTO – The Knights inability to play a complete game with high energy and execution has been a common theme this season.
Shasta College was shut out in the second half in a 44-17 road loss at No. 24 American River College Saturday in the Sierra Pacific Industries College Game of the Week.
For the second straight week, the Knights (1-3 NorCal Conference, 2-7) played a strong first half but couldn’t keep it rolling the rest of the game. After going the month of the season as a strong third-quarter team, Shasta has been outscored 37-0 in the third quarter during its past two losses.
“It’s been the same thing all year, we can’t put four quarters together,” said Shasta sophomore running back Cavin Gillispie, who finished with a team-best 88 rushing yards on 15 carries and 52 yards receiving on three catches. “We’re an awesome team and have unbelievable talent and athletes out there but it’s sad we can’t get everybody to click at the same time.”
The Knights started hot, forcing fumble on the Beavers’ opening drive and turning it into three points as Junior Gonzalez nailed a 33-yard field goal for an early lead. Shasta didn’t allow any points on the following two drives and intercepted a pass at the end of the half for two takeaways through two quarters. The Knights entered with only three takeaways all year.
“That’s what we’ve been missing throughout the season,” Shasta College head coach Craig Thompson said.
American River (3-1 NorCal, 5-4) got on the board just before the end of the first quarter on a 42-yard passing touchdown. Shasta answered with Hoku-Lani Wickard connecting on an out-route to Karnell Collier for an 8-yard touchdown to retake the lead 10-7. The lead would change two more times with the Beavers striking quickly on an 81-yard touchdown pass, Wickard responded with a 21-yard touchdown toss to Barry Bolden before Marco Baldacchino put ARC on top for good with a 36-yard strike to Naequan Parker to go ahead 21-17 late in the second quarter.
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“We were banging the ball down their throats, passing the ball on them, they couldn’t stop us and I Was thinking ‘why couldn’t we be doing this all year?’” Gillispie said.
Carson Marx picked off a Baldacchino pass on the last play of the half to get momentum going into the locker room. But for the second straight week, the Knights failed to carry it over to the third quarter.
Shasta was outscored 16-0 in the third quarter and its first four starting field positions were at its own 17, 3, 3 and 8. Wickard was called for intentional grounding out of his own end zone for a safety, a tipped pass was intercepted and returned for a pick-6 Baldacchino’s 36-yard touchdown to Brandon McCarter Jr. put the Beavers ahead 37-17.
The only other chance at points for the Knights came on a missed field goal in the fourth quarter and ARC put the game away with a 10-yard pass following a Shasta fumble.
Collier was a standout for the Knights, hauling in nine passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. Patrick Blake was limited with an ankle sprain to catch three passes for 47 yards and Wickard was 16 of 29 passing for 221 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Backup QB Kody Karpinski threw for 55 yards on three completions. Hunter Margain tied for a team-high 12 tackles with Matthew Ariaga and forced a fumble.
Baldacchino threw for 330 yards and four scores as ARC outgained Shasta 487-346.
Shasta wraps up the season at home against rival and No. 4 Butte, which beat Sierra 41-21 on Saturday.
“We’re struggling right now with numbers and have half the squad we started with,” Thompson said. “But these kids that we have never gave up or put up the white flag. They keep fighting until the end.”
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