SRJC football remains winless after 24-17 loss to Shasta

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The Santa Rosa Junior College football team continued its rough start to the 2019 season, losing a third straight game, this time in a 24-17 loss to Shasta College Saturday afternoon in Santa Rosa.

“I think they played the entire game with great effort and we’re still making a lot of freshman mistakes and still trying to figure out the quarterback situation. But we did some good things today,” Santa Rosa head coach Lenny Wagner said.

After two early losses, including a 45-13 defeat to Butte College last Saturday in Chico, the Bear Cubs (0-3 overall, 0-0 Big 8) are still finding their footing and have been distributing playing time between quarterbacks Jhalen Grayer and Will Heckman, and Saturday gave a lot of the snaps to Colin Hickey.

“It was nice to see us do some things on special teams and I thought the defense played with a lot of heart. That’s the areas where we got to try to get better at and we got to really be critical of the areas that are still hurting us. Some of that is just remembering your plays or catching the ball. It’s just pretty basic things but on the positive side they’re fixable things and you just hope that the guys are going to be accountable and be open and make the necessary adjustments,” Wagner said.

Santa Rosa looked to turn its season around but Shasta (3-0 overall, 0-0 National-NorCal), who is a top-ten passing team in the state, made it difficult this Saturday.

To open the game, the Bear Cubs forced a three-and-out on the Knights’ first drive and forced a bad punt, which combined with a good return from Blake Thomas to start their drive on Shasta’s 18-yard line.

Hickey and Heckman rotated at quarterback to start the game and Heckman finished off the short drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to take an early 7-0 lead.

Late in the first quarter, Shasta’s Ivan Smith returned a short punt 45 yards to tie the score 7-7 heading into the second quarter.

The Bear Cubs’ defense continued to play tough and make big plays in crucial moments like Khalen McGee’s interception to start the second quarter.

Following another good punt return from Thomas that put Santa Rosa’s offense back in enemy territory, the Bear Cubs took advantage by hitting on a 51-yard field goal try from Keven Nguyen to take back the lead.

Despite the Bear Cubs’ impressive play on defense, late in the first half Shasta finally found the end zone on offense, hitting on a 35-yard touchdown pass to Kentrell Petite on a broken fourth-down play.

The Knights led 14-10 at halftime.

Shasta opened the second half with a long drive resulting in a successful 40-yard field goal attempt from Mathew Ramirez.

The Knights continued to move the ball well on offense and on their next possession found the end zone again, this time on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Hokulani Wickard to Carson Marx to extend their lead to 24-10 after three quarters.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Bear Cubs put together a good drive with Grayer taking the snaps and hitting Justin Sarganis for a couple big receptions. Santa Rosa scored its first points of the half on a 5-yard touchdown run from Maceo Barbosa to reduce Shasta’s lead to 24-17.

Late in the game, the Bear Cubs made another big defensive play, forcing a fumble that O’Neil Williams recovered.

That gave the offense a chance to tie the score with less than three minutes left in regulation, but Shasta’s defense shut them down and walked away with the 24-17 win.

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