Photo by Maddie Harrell
WEED, Calif. – A strong run game mixed with a stout defensive performance lifted the 17th ranked Shasta College football team to a 23-7 road victory over rival College of the Siskiyous Saturday afternoon.
Matt McCree and Tyler Boston each scored a rushing touchdown as the duo ran for a combined 133 yards as the Knights won at COS for the first time since 2008, moving to 7-1 overall and 2-1 in NorCal Conference play.
"We felt like we played physical again on both sides of the ball and both backs and the line did a nice job," said Shasta College head coach Bryon Hamilton.
Siskiyous (0-3 NorCal, 0-8) scored on the fourth play of the game when Zakayas Dennis-Lee ripped off a 55-yard run. But that would be the lone offensive highlight of the day for the Eagles with the Knights shutting them down the rest of the game, holding them to 50 yards passing on 22 attempts and 186 total yards. It's the fourth time Shasta held its opponents to seven points or less this season.
Shasta answered later in the opening quarter with Boston racing for a 24-yard run to set up McCree's 19-yard touchdown scamper to tie it at 7. Quarterback Hokulani Wickard orchestrated the hurry-up offense inside the final 1:15 of the half and Matthew Ramirez nailed a 44-yard field goal to lead 10-7 at intermission.
Freshman safety Joe Merkel intercepted Hayden Chittock in the third quarter after Dennis-Lee's 37-yard run flipped the field for Siskiyous. Shasta's ensuing drive didn't result in points but the Knights scored on their two fourth quarter drives to pull away.
Wickard connected with freshman Brandon Morris for a 14-yard touchdown early in the final period and the Shasta defense got the ball right back after forcing a three-and-out. With 8:03 left, Shasta marched on a nine-play drive – all runs, six from Boston, including his 1-yard plunge with 1:55 remaining to ice the game. Shasta held the ball for 40:02, the most on the year.
"We understood the moment, understood that if we controlled the game as long as we kept getting first downs," Hamilton said. "We wanted to get the click under 3 minutes and that would make it real difficult for them and we came away with points and finished the drive."
Wickard was 19-of-26 passing for 167 yards and he completed nine of his 10 passes in the second half. James Lee caught three passes for 30 yards and Ivan Smith had seven catches for 28 yards and another 27 yards rushing. McCree ran 19 times for 71 yards and added another 46 yards on the ground while Boston ran 17 times for 62 yards.
Cole Parker had the Knights' lone sack on the day and tied with Garrison Roach for a team-best five tackles. Merkel had four tackles in addition to his interception and Rashard Budd had four tackles, one for a loss.
Shasta hosts American River College – a 14-7 winner over Butte – on Saturday at 6 p.m. to stay in the running for a NorCal Conference championship and a state playoff berth.