49 - 17Full Time
RED BLUFF — The PG&E blackout ended at Red Bluff High School on Thursday night, but toward the end of the third quarter of Friday’s Wolves-Spartans’ junior varsity contest the stadium lights hadn’t come on as dusk crept in.
The under-card game was halted temporarily as maintenance workers tried to bypass the computerized lighting system.
And when the lights finally came on and the Shasta varsity squad hit the field … it was light’s out. Nathan Bova scored three times, Derek Myers threw two touchdown passes and James Weaver found paydirt twice as the Wolves (3-4, 2-1 Eastern Athletic League) kept the hosts winless on the season with a never-in-doubt 49-17 win.
“Coming off such an emotional win the week before against an opponent everyone probably thought was better than we were and being on the flip side where you look at the records and on paper we should beat Red Bluff, but let’s play to our capabilities,” Shasta coach JC Hunsaker said. “This could be a trap game with all the distractions – the power outages, not knowing if we’re playing here or at home and then the light issue – and then our very first snap we snap it high and now Red Bluff has a little mojo and things could’ve crumbled but we responded well and controlled things from there.”
Shasta had eight ball carriers run for at least 25 yards as the Wolves rushed for 357 yards with Bova rushing for a team-high 72 yards in one half of action.
“We practiced all week and coach Hunsaker told us it wasn’t about the opponent, but us getting better,” said Bova. “I think we came out and executed pretty well tonight and the score showed.”
The Wolves actually started slow with their first snap on offense sailing over Myers’ head for a 16 yard loss and a Shasta three-and-out. The Spartans got a nice punt return by Clyde Shaver to the Wolves’ 26 yard line and Red Bluff took a 3-0 lead six plays later on a 26 yard Aaron Rodriguez boot.
The lead was short-lived as the Wolves marched down the field on a seven-play, 68-yard touchdown drive capped by Bova’s first of three scores on a 19-yard sweep.
After the Wolves stuffed the Spartans on the first play of the second period — a 4th-and-3 that went for an 8-yard loss on a Braden Robinson run — Shasta used more than 5 minutes of the quarter to ground out a 13-play, 62-yard scoring drive that featured a fourth-and-5 run from Charles Dietrich that netted 11 yards from near midfield to keep the Wolves rolling. Bova again capped off the drive with a 13-yard score on a sweep and the Wolves led 14-3 with 6:39 left before intermission.
“The lineman blocked as good as the possibly could tonight and holes were opening up for everybody,” Bova said. “It couldn’t have been better.”
A sentiment Hunsaker echoed.
“It’s not just a testament to who they are as athletes that run the ball, it’s the grind of the big five up front getting after it sticking to their responsibility no matter what defensive front we see,” the Wolves coach said. “We did what we wanted to do offensively tonight and it makes everybody’s job easier to execute when we do have a balanced attack.”
And while the offense was firing on all cylinders, the Shasta defense, which came up big in last week’s 21-20 win over Pleasant Valley, was matching their counterparts. In the first half, Shasta held Red Bluff to 66 total yards of offense as quarterback Eli Wehbey was 8-of-13 passing for 13 yards and an interception.
That pick happened with just over four minutes to play in the half as Wehbey tried to squeeze a ball to a crossing-route receiver as linebacker Isaiah Pena jumped the route and returned the interception 14 yards to set up the Shasta offense on the Spartans’ 30. On the next play James Weaver cut back on a sweep and found paydirt and a 21-3 edge.
The Wolves held the Spartans to a three-and-out and got the ball back with 90 seconds left in the half. They’d go 65 yards in six plays, highlighted by a 34-yard Myers-to-Famous-Armstrong pass and capped by a 17-yard strike from the junior quarterback to Bova, who notched his third score of the half.
“Derek was on point tonight,” Bova said. “I saw the safety fall and there was no one there.”
And while Bova was done after intermission, the Shasta offense wasn’t. Myers drove the Wolves 68 yards in nine plays out of intermission, hitting Weaver on a 36-yard seam route for a 35-3 lead three minutes into the second half.
Red Bluff got on the board again late in the third period against the Wolves’ backups as Wehbey hit Shaver on an 11-yard TDs strike on fourth-and-2 from the 3 after a pass interference on an incompletion in the back of the end zone gave the Spartans a second shot.
But five plays after the Spartans’ TD, David Webb became the fourth of five Shasta players to score on the night. His 5-yard dive gave Shasta a 42-10 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Wehbey threw his second TD pass to Shaver on the ensuing Red Bluff possession before Josh Akana became the final Shasta ball carrier to find the end zone on a 55-yard scamper with just over two minutes left.
In addition to Bova’s 72-yard night, Johari Woods rushed for 65 yards on seven carries, Weaver ran for 44 yards on seven carries and Blake DeJesus netter 56 yards on four carries (he also had a score brought back due to a holding penalty). Webb ran for 25 yards and a score, Akana had 55 yards on one carry, Tate Fagan rushed for 28 yards and Dietrich finished with 29 yards. Myers, meanwhile, was 6-of-8 passing for 107 yards and one touchdown.
“We have some guys that are talented ball players, you know,” Hunsaker said. “We try our best to have a platoon system where our offensive guys learn what they need to do and our defensive guys do what they do and not have to worry about the other side of the ball , then when you get a chance to gets the 2s some reps you get to see just how athletic those guys can be as well”
The Wolves are on a bye next week before traveling to Enterprise on Oct. 25 for the River Bowl. The Spartans host Chico on Friday.
“With two weeks of preparation heading into a River Bowl you don’t want to stub your toe,” Hunsaker said. “We needed to win this game tonight and needed to win the way we won it so we could stay focused on the task at hand. I don’t care what Enterprise’s record is, they don’t care what it is; they don’t care what ours is. It’s the frickin’ River Bowl.”
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