Even before the game started on Friday night, it was evident that the energy and emotion was high for the game between the RedHawks and Bears in Colusa.
Colusa was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct before the opening kickoff, as their players crossed the 50-yard line and onto Pierce’s side of the field during warm-ups and the two sides nearly tussled. While a 15-yard penalty before the game isn’t the way any team wants to start its night, the event set the tone for what was an aggressive, hard-hitting, and sometimes chippy football game. When it came down to it, the RedHawks were more successful in harnessing that energy, avoiding penalties as the game progressed, and they cruised to a 31-6 victory.
“It’s hard. It’s a challenge, because everybody is so fired up,” Colusa head coach Matt Jesse said. “We always preach ‘play to the whistle.’ The first half, some times it bled a little bit outside of the whistles on both sides of the ball. But at the end of the day, I think both teams played hard. I think they understand the magnitude of a county rivalry like this one, and the kids are going to play hard. At the end of the day, cooler heads are going to prevail, and I thought our kids did a good job of that tonight.”
For the RedHawks, no one seemed quite as fired up as Brendan Garcia, who had more than 100 yards from scrimmage for the RedHawks. The best way to describe Garcia’s running was angry: the senior back had six carries for 42 yards and three touchdowns, and all three of those scores came on carries from inside the 5-yard line in the first half. His most impressive carry of the night came on fourth-and-goal from Pierce’s 3-yard line, when he ran off tackle, cut outside near the left hash mark, and threw a stiff arm on Pierce linebacker Tommy Davis at the line of scrimmage. The much bigger Davis pushed Garcia laterally toward the sideline, trying to keep him out of the end-zone, but Garcia refused to be denied, inching forward until he ultimately crossed the goal line for his third touchdown. Garcia also hauled in a 70-yard pass from quarterback Conner Saso on Colusa’s first play from scrimmage, and led the team with 6 total tackles, including one for a loss.
“He’s had a really good last two weeks of practice,” Jessee said. “We made it a point to kind of emphasize him within our offensive game plan, more than we’ve been doing. He got his opportunities, and he certainly made the most of it.”
The RedHawks opened the scoring with 9:26 left in the first quarter, when Garcia plunged in from the 1-yard line. They scored again – this time on a four-yard run from Garcia – with a minute left to play in the first quarter. Both scores were set up by long passes from Saso – the first on the 70-yarder to Garcia, and the second on a 63-yard completion to Leo Guzman. After Saso snagged an interception on Pierce’s next play from scrimmage with 50 seconds left in the quarter, Garcia broke away for a 29-yard gain, and Christian Lyss plunged in from the 2-yard line to put Colusa up 21-0 at the end of the first.
The Bears opened the second quarter with the ball at their own 20-yard line, but were forced to punt after just three plays. Tommy Davis’ punt traveled just eight yards, and set the RedHawks up with great field position, at the Bears’ 30-yard line. Christian Lyss had carried the ball five times for 30 yards on an eight-play scoring drive, setting up a Garcia’s signature third touchdown. After a scoreless third quarter, Leo Guzman booted a 20-yard field-goal on the first play of the fourth, putting the RedHawks up 31-0. The Bears avoided a shutout on their next possession, marching 69 yards in 10 plays before fullback Matthew Tapia plunged in from the 1-yard line. An unsuccessful two-point attempt made it 31-6 with just over five minutes remaining in the game. The RedHawks’ backups ran for three first downs to run the clock out and seal the victory.
Colusa’s defense was outstanding, holding what has been a solid Pierce rushing attack to just 136 yards on 35 carries. They allowed just one completion on eight attempts from Pierce quarterback Ramon Paiz – that being an eight yard gain to Gabe Villa. In addition to Garcia, other standouts included Conner Saso, who had five tackles and an interception, and Cameron Telford had five tackles and a sack.
“We’re a team. Together, everybody achieves more – that’s our motto, and everybody did their part on defense,” Jessee said. “Everybody did their own individual one-eleventh, and when you do that, good things happen on the field.”
Tapia led Pierce’s offense with 53 yards and a touchdown – all of which came in Pierce’s final drive of the game – on nine carries. Prior to that fourth quarter drive, Tapia had one carry for no yards. Tommy Davis had 45 yards on 10 carries, and Ramon Paiz had 32 yards on seven carries.
Colusa (4-1, 1-0 SVL) travels to play Willows (1-4, 0-1 SVL) on Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM. Pierce (3-2, 0-1 SVL) is on bye this week, and hosts Willows on Oct. 5.