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RedHawks edge Trojans in season opener
The RedHawks stopped Durham High on fourth down three times, and after each stop, the Colusa offense responded with a touchdown drive during the RedHawks’ 42-30 season-opening victory Friday at the Colusa High football field.
Leading by six with 3:28 left in the game, the Colusa High defensive line held Durham quarterback Brycen Buck an inch short on 4th-and-1 at the RedHawks’ 45-yard line. Two plays later, Ryan Abele broke free for a 69-yard touchdown with just under two minutes remaining, putting a Trojan comeback out of reach.
Durham returned 20 seniors and two juniors from a team that opened last season with a 42-14 victory against Colusa before going 4-7 and losing in the first round of the playoffs to Pierce.
“We were motivated. We saw how last year we did against them – 17-14 at halftime, and we just didn't finish,” Colusa senior running back Estevan Frias said. “Here, they had a two-point lead in the fourth. We just had to finish, and we did.”
Colusa returned just seven players from last year’s 5-6 team, and the team’s biggest challenge in the game was all of the new players getting accustomed to the RedHawks’ fast-paced shotgun wing-T offense.
The RedHawks turned the ball over four times, twice on snaps that went over quarterback Jose Santana’s head, and committed 17 penalties for 131 yards. Durham finished with 10 penalties for 125 yards including four personal fouls.
Despite the miscues, Colusa was explosive on offense and showed off a much-improved defense.
“We just started to get motivated. We didn’t even get mad at each other, because we knew that (if) we let each other down, that was going to be game over,” RedHawks starting right tackle Fernando Amador said.
The RedHawks racked up 377 yards rushing on 40 carries and had 103 yards through the air.
Estevan Frias ruled the first half, carrying eight times for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
The second half belonged to Abele, who needed just four touches to reach 150 yards and score. Frias finished with 15 carries for 143 yards and three touchdowns, and Abele ran eight times for 193 yards and a touchdown.
Santana completed 6 of 11 passes for 103 yards and an interception, with three completions going to tight end R.J. Phillips, who finished with 69 yards. Santana was also effective running the ball, carrying nine times for 20 yards and two touchdowns and a two-point conversion.
Colusa’s new defense installed by defensive coordinator Lane Davis held the Trojans to 331 total yards. Nearly half of the Trojans’ yardage came on three long receptions by Zach Marks, who finished with four receptions for 163 yards and touchdown catches of 48 and 51 yards. He had a 48-yard reception that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Ryley Haugh.
“(The defense) was the big difference I think this time,” Colusa coach Paul Theriault said. “When we would turn the ball over last year, they would go down and score; we turned the ball over tonight, but our defense held firm a lot of the time.”
Tanner Ruggieri, Cesar Buenrostro and Ryan Manning recorded sacks for Colusa, and Jordan Cole and Jordan Wilson intercepted passes.
Neither team scored in the first quarter, but the RedHawks scored on the first play of the second quarter when Frias powered through a facemask penalty by a Trojan defender and took a counter 22 yards for a touchdown.
After a Haugh touchdown and a two-point conversion, Frias once again gave Colusa the lead with a 60-yard touchdown run with less than three minutes remaining in the first half.
Durham again took the lead on a 51-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Heath to Marks, but Santana sent Colusa into halftime with a 21-16 lead on a 6-yard keeper to the right side.
Santana again found the end zone on Colusa’s first drive of the second half, but the Trojans scored twice more before the end of the third quarter to enter the final 12 minutes with a 30-28 lead.
Frias scored his third touchdown on the first drive of the fourth quarter, and the RedHawk defense held the Trojans scoreless the rest of the way.