photo by Mike Daly
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Shasta College's defense has been the driving force behind its winning streak.
On Saturday, the Knights' offense got in on the party.
Shasta rushed for 327 yards and totaled 510 yards of offense – both season-highs – in a 39-22 road victory over San Jose City College for its fourth straight win.
The Knights have 13 wins in the past 14 October games.
"I knew we racked up great yards of offense and all the backs we had in there had great success," Shasta College head coach Craig Thompson said. "I'm proud of how the offense came out and established themselves as a dominant side, controlling the line of scrimmage, and then we started pounding the ball and physically started to take over the game."
Sophomore running back Justin Hellyer led the way with 121 yards on 22 carries while sophomore DeMarco Grayson broke off highlight-reel runs for his 91 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 12 attempts. Nearly everyone who carried ball found success as six Knights rushed for at least 10 yards.
"We locked in during practice and we knew we had to have a big week as running backs," said Grayson, who scored a career-high three times. "The coaches challenged us to make great plays during practice so it would translate to Saturday."
The Knights (4-3, 2-1 Pacific 7 League) didn't have a great start with Trent Darms throwing a pick-6 on the third play of the game. But the freshman quarterback responded with a scoring drive, capped by his 16-yard scramble for a touchdown to tie it at 7.
The lead changed three times before half. San Jose scored on a 35-yard pass, Grayson punched it in from 3-yards out, and San Jose went into the break ahead 16-14 on a 30-yard field goal.
A 20-yard field goal from Kendall Raschein gave the Knights a 17-16 advantage, but the Jaguars quickly answered with a 19-yard touchdown strike, aided by the first of three straight long kickoff returns.
Shasta scored the final 23 points of the game, heavily leaning on the ground attack that has been struggling all season. Grayson ran untouched up the middle 15 yards to give the Knights the lead for good. He broke off runs of 15 and 31 yards, setting up his 1-yard plunge for his third score. Mike Kenio Jr. put on the finishing touches with a 24-yard touchdown run of his own.
"The first half in this game we still showed some of the ugly stuff we've been doing throughout the season," Thompson said. "We as coaches challenged them at halftime and they responded and grew up in the second half."
Shasta's defense took care of its part, especially in the second half. The Knights' Tyreko Mattox, Jacob Anae and Dedric Luton each had an interception and the Jaguars only picked up three first downs in the final two quarters.
The Knights return home Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff, hosting the Foothill Owls, who Shasta is tied with atop the Pac 7 standings. Both have only one loss in league play.
"We're just juiced right now," said Grayson, who added a 38-yard catch. "We know what's at stake each game and know we have to bring it every game."
Darms finished 11 of 23 passing for 183 yards and two interceptions, while also adding 51 rushing yards and a touchdown.
NOTE: The CCCAA website reports Shasta won 37-22, not counting the two extra points made by Raschein in the fourth quarter. The correct score was 39-22 but it was incorrectly reported to the state.