With time winding down in the third quarter, it looked as if the Colusa RedHawks football team had all but punched its ticket to the Northern Section Division IV semi-final.
The No. 5-seeded RedHawks had scored on consecutive possessions, first on a 58-yard scamper by quarterback Conner Saso, and again when Christian Lyss barreled his way in from five yards out, to give their team a 35-14 lead over No. 4-seeded Trinity with just a minute remaining in the third quarter. Going back to the end of the first half, Colusa defense had been stout, too, forcing two punts and a turnover on downs on the Wolves’ last three possessions.
In short, it looked like the game was over, but Trinity quarterback Brian Harper had other plans. And while the RedHawks ultimately prevailed 35-28, things could have gone much differently in Weaverville on Friday night.
After Lyss scored to put the RedHawks up by three possessions, Harper orchestrated an eight-play, 65 yard scoring drive that he capped with a 12-yard touchdown strike to tight-end Yodi La Fein. He followed that by running in for the two-point conversion, putting the Wolves within 13 points, 35–22.
Trinity’s defense followed up by forcing a three-and-out, and Trinity took possession at their own 34-yard line after the punt. Harper had some more heroics up his sleeve, connecting with Shawn Scribner for a 33 yard gain early in the drive. Facing a fourth-and-14 at Colusa’s 20-yard line, he delivered again, scrambling 16 yards to give his team a first-and-goal at Colusa’s four-yard line. He followed that with a four-yard touchdown rush to cut Colusa’s lead to seven after an unsuccessful two-point attempt.
With just 4:37 left in the game, Colusa recovered an onside kick at Trinity’s 43-yard line and started running the clock. Shane Calcagno and Christian Lyss – who had been workhorses for the RedHawks’ offense all game – rattled off seven and six yard gains, respectively, before Saso sprinted for 15 yards to give the RedHawks a first-and-10 inside the red-zone. On the ensuing play, there was a bad exchange between Saso and Lyss, and the ball fell to the wet, muddy turf. Colusa and Trinity players alike fell to the ground, forming a pile on top of the ball. When the dust settled, the referees signaled Trinity ball, giving Harper and the Wolves one last shot, with 77 yards to go for a touchdown and just over three minutes to do it.
On first-and-10 from the RedHawks’ 23-yard line, Harper pitched the ball to running back Johnny Vess, who looked to throw the ball down field on a halfback pass. Seeing nothing, Vess reversed field, saw a wide open running lane to his left, and took off for a 19 yard gain. Vess followed that with a seven yard gain on a counter. Trinity was called for holding on their next play, giving them a second-and-20 at their own 32. After nearly being intercepted on second down, Harper connected with Scribner on third-and-20 for a 38-yard gain, giving his team a first-and-10 at Colusa’s 30-yard line.
Fortunately for the RedHawks, Trinity’s luck had run out: A false start pushed them back five yards, they lost five more on a pass behind the line of scrimmage, and a draw to Marcus Williamson failed to yield a first down. On third-and-seven, Harper was sacked for a yard loss, giving the Wolves a fourth-and-long with under 50 seconds left in the game.
Trinity once again dialed up a half-back pass from Vess. This time, Vess looked to throw the ball back to Harper down the field, but Colusa’s Leo Guzman poked away the ball to seal the win for Colusa.
Saso found the end-zone twice on the ground and once through the air for Colusa, while Shane Calcagno and Christian Lyss each had a rushing touchdown for the RedHawks. Poli Pulido was on the other end of Saso’s lone passing touchdown.
With the win, Colusa is set to play No. 1-seeded East Nicolaus at 7 PM this Friday. The Spartans defeated No. 8-seeded Williams 46-13 last week. ■