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UPDATED: Braves second-half surge grounds RedHawks
The Braves held just a seven-point lead after an offensive first half for both sides resulted in Hamilton High leading Colusa 28-21 at the break, but 28 second-half points and an increase in intensity resulted in the Braves pulling away for a commanding 56-28 win over the RedHawks in Colusa on Friday.
The RedHawks (4-5, 2-2 Mid-Valley League) could not have scripted the beginning of the game any better, as quarterback Kyle Cervantes found Andrew Rodriguez cutting across the middle, and Rodriguez went the distance for a 60-yard touchdown on the very first play from scrimmage.
Hamilton (6-3, 4-0 MVL) came back immediately and only needed five plays to cap a 65-yard scoring drive with Andrew Shippelhoute going over from 5 yards out.
Colusa answered and retook the lead on their next possession when Conner Herrick made his way into the end zone from 10 yards out, making it 14-7 with 7:51 still remaining in the first quarter.
The back-and-forth continued when Shippelhoute scored again on a 16-yard surge in the middle, still in the first period.
Try as they might, the RedHawks could not score again in the first quarter, and settled for Rodriguez going over again from a yard out on the first play of the second period, as Colusa once again wrestled the lead away at 21-14.
A 3-yard plunge by Shippelhoute evened it up at 21-21, and after he recovered a Colusa fumble, Shippelhoute found himself on the receiving end of a 39-yard scoring pass from Brad Hall, giving the Braves their first lead at 28-21, and that was as close as the RedHawks would be for the rest of the night.
Hamilton came out a different team for the second half, and Hall hit Tim Bekendam with a 16-yard TD pass on their first drive of the half, but it was certainly not the last time they'd score.
Rodriguez again made it a seven-point game when he scored on a 13-yard sweep, but the Braves tacked on a pair of Austin Burbank rushing touchdowns - of 9 and 4 yards - before Theron Fumasi capped the scoring by diving across from 7 yards out.
"It was a matter of intensity," said Hamilton coach Ryan Bentz of the difference between the first and second half. "We probably couldn't replicate their speed in practice. Their backfield is solid, you can't key on any one guy."
As for the Braves allowing 21 first-half points, Bentz said, "We did a lot better in the second half, it was just a shutout. The game just took on that personality."
Colusa coach Paul Theriault pointed out the problems the RedHawks faced in trying to block Hamilton's Fabian Frutos, who finished with four sacks. "We couldn't stop (Frutos), he was just giving us a hard time. It's hard to throw the ball when you're on the ground."
The RedHawks also lost three fumbles, which also took their toll. "Some of it was the constant pressure on the quarterback, as well as ball security," said Theriault. "When you turn the ball over that's a problem."
Hall completed 9 of 14 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns for the Braves, who also ran for 286 yards.
"We have a 'backfield by committee,'" said Bentz of Hamilton's running game. Leland Prior led the way with 73 yards, and was followed closely by Burbank (65), Hall (52) and Alonzo Pinedo (41).
Shippelhoute caught four passes for 124 yards, and Bekendam caught four for his 77 yards.
Joining Frutos in the rush to the quarterback were Adolfo Diaz and Marcos Rodriguez, who both also collected sacks.
Shippelhoute covered a pair of fumbles, and Diego Martinez fell on the other.
Hamilton hosts East Nicolaus (6-3, 3-1 MVL) on Friday, while Colusa hosts Williams (2-7, 1-3 MVL)
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or email@example.com.