SAN FRANCISCO – Over the course of a game, there will always be one or two definitive plays that turn the tide one way or another.
For Shasta, ‘fourth-and-22’ will live in infamy for the 2019 Knights.
No. 20 Shasta College ended the year by suffering its third straight loss with a 50-43 overtime defeat to No. 11 San Francisco City College Saturday in the Golden State Bowl and the Sierra Pacific Industries College Game of the Week.
After Torren Calhoun-Ray and Detrius Kelsall sacked San Francisco on second and third down to force fourth-and-22, San Francisco’s Jacob Cruz heaved a jump ball down the sideline against quarters-coverage and Traivion Drumme came down with it easily. Two plays later, Cruz threw a 26-yard touchdown pass and the 2-point conversion to Drumme tie it at 43 with 1:19 left.
“That deflated us a little bit,” said Calhoun-Ray, who was named the Golden State Bowl Defensive MVP for his reported six-tackle, four-sack performance. “We all knew we were one play away from winning the game. I guess I thought we had it in the bag but it didn’t work out that way.”
In overtime, Jarmar Julien found pay dirt from 2-yards out to put pressure on the Knights’ offense. Tyler Boston caught a 19-yard pass on the first play to get to the San Francisco 6. But on fourth-and-goal from the 2, Kasey Briggs lofted a corner route in the end zone intended for Brandon Morris but San Francisco’s Isaiah Mays intercepted it to end the game.
“To be in that situation in overtime against a historical powerhouse team on the road speaks volumes to where our program is and how hard our players play,” Hamilton said. “It’s disappointing to lose a game that was within our grasp a couple of times but the big picture is everyone knows Shasta College can be mentioned with the better programs.”
Shasta’s offense totaled a season-high 43 points and 53 rushing attempts, leaning heavily on freshman running back Tyler Boston since starting quarterback Hokulani Wickard was out for the game from a concussion suffered last week against Butte.
With backup QB Kasey Briggs running the offense, Hamilton called a conservative game plan that not only kept the Knights in the game but gave them the lead with less than 4 minutes remaining when Boston scored his fourth touchdown of the game. Boston finished with 27 carries for 105 yards and three touchdowns, adding six catches for 128 yards and a touchdown.
“We came in as the underdog and they didn’t respect us one bit,” said Boston. “Thought they were going to run us over but we showed we could be a lot more than what we were all season.”
Despite the success, it took a bit for the Knights to find their groove. Shasta trailed 14-3 after the opening quarter, giving up two long touchdown passes.
But the Knights owned the second quarter, scoring three times in the period. Freshman receiver James Lee scored on a 5-yard sweep, Boston turned a short swing pass into a 48-yard touchdown and Briggs scrambled for a 7-yard scoring run set up by a blocked punt to lead 23-20 at halftime.
Boston capped a 9-play drive coming out of half with a 5-yard run to go ahead 30-21. After Rashard Budd and Calhoun-Ray sacked Cruz on consecutive plays to force a punt, the Knights appeared in control. But the Rams blocked a 37-yard Matthew Ramirez field goal and turned the momentum in their favor. Cruz connected with Christian Willis for a 17-yard score and Shasta fumbled the ensuing kickoff to set San Francisco up at the Shasta 25. Julien’s 2-yard run put the Rams ahead 35-30 early in the fourth.
Shasta stole the momentum back with a gut-wrenching 11-play drive capped by Boston’s 3-yard plunge. Cole Parker, who had 1.5 reported sacks on the day, tipped a pass in the air and Budd came down with the interception. Boston capitalized on the ensuing drive, walking in from 2-yards out to lead 43-35 with 3:46 left.
“Once we settled down we controlled the line of scrimmage and did what we wanted in the run game, and was conservative but efficient passing,” Hamilton said.
But Shasta surrendered the Rams’ desperation fourth down completion to give them life. Two plays and a 2-point conversion later it was tied at 43, which held to force overtime.
Two crucial defensive penalties helped the Rams score – a personal foul on second-and-27 followed by defensive pass interference in the end zone. That set Julien up to run it in from the 2.
Boston’s big gain on a swing pass put Shasta at the 6. All five overtime plays were passes for Shasta despite the success running the ball and the Knights couldn’t match the score with Briggs’ pass falling into the hands of the opposition.
Shasta’s eight sacks and four takeaways were season-highs. Parker finished with nine tackles, Kelsall with eight tackles and 1.5 sacks and Budd had two sacks and five tackles. Garrison Roach had an interception to go with seven tackles.
Lee ran six times for 55 yards and caught two passes for 11 yards while Jusiah Gabel hauled in two passes for 69 yards. Briggs was 12-of-17 passing for 218 yards and ran for 14 yards on 14 carries.
San Francisco’s Cruz was named the Bowl Game Overall MVP after completing 23-of-33 passes for 343 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Julien was named Offensive MVP, finishing with 16 carries for 105 yards and three scores, including the go-ahead touchdown in overtime. Willis caught eight passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns and Kenden Robinson Jr. hauled in 10 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown.
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