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Shasta College suffers ‘devastating’ 19-16 loss to Siskiyous on Hail Mary

Tipped pass goes the Eagles way for season-opening win

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Improbable, unimaginable and unprecedented events have rocked the world for the past 51 weeks.

Why shouldn’t the first junior college football game in California during the COVID-19 pandemic be any different?

Trailing by three with seven seconds left, Ted Wickman hauled in a tipped pass on a short Hail Mary situation and took it the final five yards for a 37-yard touchdown to lift visiting College of the Siskiyous over Shasta College 19-16 Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Shasta cornerback Jaiden Harris appeared locked in for an interception of O.J. Calleja’s pass down the right sideline. Instead, the ball went through Harris’ hands and popped into the air, leaving the trailing Wickman in perfect position to snatch it and let his momentum carry him to the end zone for the game-winning score.

Knights’ head coach Bryon Hamilton couldn’t help but draw comparisons to the way Shasta’s 2019 season ended in the Golden State Bowl Game against San Francisco City College. A fourth-and-22 pass was completed against Shasta’s secondary, setting up a late score and eventually an overtime defeat.

“Emotionally it takes so much to be invested in it and it comes down to a Hail Mary at the end and doesn’t go our way, that’s tough to swallow,” Hamilton said. “It’s devastating.

“Two games like that back-to-back now. But you have to find a way to dig yourself out of that and just play.”

Accepting the outcome is more difficult when the Knights (0-1) took the lead just seconds earlier. Quarterback Torren Tuttle lofted the a fade route to Gentry Cox in the corner of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown on fourth-and-14 to complete an 11-play, 70-yard drive, both Shasta’s longest of the game.

“Toren did a nice job executing on that drive and that’s a positive we can take out of this,” Hamilton said. “Score on a fourth down play when you gotta have it and he throws a beautiful ball to (Cox).”

After a 2-point conversion pass from Tuttle to Jayden Gordon in the flat, Siskiyous quickly put itself in a dangerous spot. But the Knights allowed a fourth-and-10 pass on a falling-down grab by Jordan Cummings. Wickman hauled in a 25-yard pass to get into plus-territory and caught the game-winning the following play.

Wickman finished with 189 receiving yards on eight catches while Calleja completed 12-of-24 passes for 171 yards and the score.

Shasta committed to its run game early, showing confidence in its backfield combo of Tyler Boston, Gordon and Vinny Smith. But the trio of talented ’backs didn’t get much room running behind an all-freshmen offensive line taking their first collegiate snaps. The Knights totaled 65 yards on 37 carries with Boston leading the way with 18 and 18, respectively.

“I expected us to be better,” Hamilton said. “(Siskiyous’) was quicker and that caused some confusion and that allowed them to keep everything else in front of them.”

Shasta’s only points in the first half came off a safety from Jared Amasio’s blocked punt and the Knights trailed 7-2 at the break. A few untimely mistakes and penalties prevented Shasta from capitalizing on big plays and drives.

The first offensive points from the Knights came with six seconds left in the third when Kasey Briggs connected with Tyler Carey on a 6-yard out route to lead 8-7.

Siskiyous (0-1) answered with a 14-play touchdown drive capped by Addison Galen’s fumble recovery in the end zone to regain the lead 13-8.

Both teams punted on their ensuing drives before Tuttle guided the Knights on their scoring drive and connecting with Cox.

But the Eagles picked up three chunk plays and utilized its two timeouts in the final 42 seconds to pull out a victory, the first for Tyler Knudsen as head coach.

Carey led Shasta in receiving with eight catches for 62 yards while Gordon ran six times for 16 yards to go with eight catches for 45 yards. Sophomore Tavian Wallace (14 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble) and freshman Larry Polk (10 tackles) paced the defense. CJ Catia intercepted a pass and London McCall had a sack.

Up Next

Siskiyous (1-0) – Bye Week.

Shasta (0-1) – hosts Feather River College, which was on a bye week Saturday.

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T.J. is a national-award winning journalist passionate about local news and telling the story no one else knows about. He’s roamed sidelines, baselines and bleachers in the North State since 2010 and is a content producer from sunup to sundown. Sports are a hobby he shares with his wife Tracy where they’ve spent many dates around a field or court of some sort.

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