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Colusa beats Pierce with bizarre finish
As Colusa High's fans swarmed the post-game huddle after their 18-13 victory over visiting Pierce, one Colusa student uttered what was on just about everyone's mind: "That was the craziest finish I have seen in any sport, ever!"
Down 13-12 with four seconds remaining, Colusa coach Paul Theriault called on kicker Fernando Amador to try a 55-yard field goal. It looked anything but promising.
In fact, the kick never had a chance. Pierce blocked the unlikely field-goal attempt as the last four seconds of the final quarter ticked off the clock.
There was only one problem - the ball was still live.
The Colusa coaches en masse screamed for one their players to pick up the ball and run. Martin Bravo obliged them, picking up the ball and sprinting his way to the end zone untouched.
By the time Pierce players realized what was going on, no one had a chance to catch him. Colusa's fans erupted in cheers, until they they saw the penalty flag.
During Bravo's heroics, several Colusa players had ripped off their helmets. If a player removes his helmet in the field of play, that constitutes a penalty.
The bizarre series of events led to a long delay as the officials huddled in the middle of the field, and talked to the coaches before making a decision.
The head referee signaled touchdown, Pierce walked off the field without shaking hands - in order to prevent tempers from boiling over according to Burnum - and Colusa began to celebrate.
However, a game cannot end on a penalty, and Pierce had the chance to return the kickoff as a result. Someone rounded the Bears back up and brought them back to the field, but Burnum decided it was better to end it.
The back judge, the referee behind the defensive line, blew the whistle and waived his arms so the Bears players stopped, Burnum said.
"The biggie was the play was blown dead and (the referee) didn't admit to it. That's the worst part," Burnum said.
Colusa coach Paul Theriault said he was listening for the whistle as he was watching for the ball because the offense can only advance the ball on a blocked kick if it stays behind the line of scrimmage. When he didn't hear the whistle, and the ball stayed on the RedHawks' side of the line, he yelled for Martin Bravo to pick the ball up and run.
"I was purposefully listening for a whistle," Theriault said. "I can't speak on (Pierce's) behalf and what they heard on their side of the field, but on our side we didn't hear it."
The other point of contention about the end of the game is how the penalty was assessed for the Colusa players who removed their helmets. Both coaches pointed to different sections of the rule book and came up with different conclusions about whether it should have been a dead-ball (upholding the touchdown) or a live-ball foul (overturning the touchdown).
The Bears and the Redhawks played a hard-hitting, competitive four quarters.
Colusa opened the scoring on their first play from scrimmage with a 74-yard pass from Jose Santana to a streaking Estavan Frias. They missed the extra point, but held the 6-0 lead.
Pierce responded after a recovering a Colusa fumble on a botched hand-off at Colusa's 31-yard line. Two plays later, Saul Mendez rumbled 25 yards for a Pierce touchdown. After the extra point, Pierce led 7-6.
On Colusa's first drive of the second half, 17 plays and nine minutes of clock led to an Estavan Frias touchdown from a yard out. The Redhawks went for two, but were unable to convert but held a 12-6 lead.
About half way through the fourth quarter, Pierce struck back. On fourthand 4, Pierce's Jake Voorhees threw an intermediate crossing route to Joe Howard, who went 32 yards for a score. Pierce went for two to go up by a field goal but failed to convert, but they still led 13-12.
On Colusa's final drive, they converted twice on fourth down. The first came on fourth-and-9 at their own 19- yard line. Jose Santana scrambled around frantically in the backfield to avoid Pierce's pass rush, and looked as if he would tuck the ball and run. Just before crossing the line of scrimmage, however, he flipped an off-balance pass to R.J. Phillips for an 18-yard completion.
The second time ended with a Bravo.
"We were pretty fortunate to get the win tonight," said Colusa coach Paul Teriault. "A well-fought game on both sides of the field. I thought our defense played well tonight. We'll probably see these guys again. We've got to get better before then."
The officials said on Tuesday that they would be relasing a statement concerning the games' final play in the next couple of days.
Colusa (3-1) hosts 4-0 Chester on Friday, while the Bears (3-2) have a bye before returning to the field at Mt. Shasta on Oct. 11.