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UPDATED: Huge second half sparks RedHawks homecoming
For the first time in eight years the Colusa High football team celebrated a victory on homecoming.
The RedHawks (4-4, 2-1 Mid-Valley League) overcame an 8-point halftime deficit to beat visiting Quincy 49-36 on Friday in a wild game in which the teams combined for 981 yards of offense.
Quincy (2-6, 1-2 MVL) gained 267 yards in the first half and took a 28-20 lead into the break but Colusa outscored the Trojans 22-0 in the third quarter to take control of the game.
"We knew this wasn't going to be an easy team, we knew they weren't going to let up, so to win that close of a game and have to work for something that wasn't easy, it was amazing," Colusa senior linebacker Zach Cole said.
The Trojans scored on their first drive of the fourth quarter and converted the two-point conversion, which cut the RedHawks lead to 42-36, but Colusa responded with a 62-yard scoring drive that drained nearly four minutes off the clock.
Colusa's defense forced a turnover on downs on the next drive and the RedHawk offense gained two first downs, forcing the Trojans to use all their timeouts. Senior quarterback Kyle Cervantes completed a 12-yard slant route over the middle to tight end R.J. Phillips with 1:48 left to set up three victory formation kneel-downs to end the game.
Cervantes gave Colusa a 7-6 lead in the first quarter when he threw a jump ball to Phillips who out-leapt the defender and raced 52 yards for a touchdown, but threw an interception in the flat on Colusa's second drive of the game.
"It feels amazing, that first interception I threw, that was just a bad pass. I knew I had to overcome that and we actually did. Our defense let a few points slip, then they actually came back too," Cervantes said.
The early interception was the only blemish for the RedHawks offense, which gained 558 yards. Cervantes completed 6 of 10 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns.
In the third quarter he tossed an 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Estavan Frias, who caught the ball while falling down in the corner of the end zone and gave Colusa a 35-28 lead.
Senior safety Nate Lyss made sure Colusa held on to the lead, intercepting a pass in the end zone on the ensuing drive after Quincy marched 65 yards to the Colusa 7-yard line.
Colusa coach Paul Theriault credited the offensive line for establishing the running game early so Cervantes would have more time to pass.
"(The line) did a pretty good job tonight," he said. "All our stuff is play action, they set up our pass with our run."
Senior running back Connor Herrick had a huge game in the backfield, carrying the ball 13 times for 144 yards and catching two passes for 46 yards.
Herrick scored on an 11-yard run in the first quarter and 67-yard counter run late in the second period. He was one of three RedHawks running backs to go over 100 yards rushing.
Ryan Abele gained 157 yards on nine carries and scored twice - on a 62-yard touchdown on the first drive of the second half and a 6-yard plunge up the middle as time ran out in the third quarter.
Andrew Rodriguez added 114 yards rushing and scored on a 30-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
Despite Quincy's lackluster record, Theriault and the RedHawks players didn't take the game lightly.
Last week the Trojans blasted East Nicolaus, a team Colusa lost to 38-13 two weeks ago, by the score of 20-8. In Colusa's match against East Nic, three turnovers early in the second half cost them the game.
"We had to turn that corner, we did some things this week to fix it but we told them, if you're going to have the character to change this thing, it's got to change right now in the second half. I'm very proud of them," Theriault said.
Quincy's sophomore quarterback Matt Beeson went 11 for 21 with 171 yards, two touchdowns and a single interception.
He threw the ball to five receivers, and connected with David Hanna on an 18-yard touchdown pass as time expired in the first half and found Cody McDonald on a 13-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"They're young too, so they're going to be good. (Beeson) has such a quick release on the ball that we couldn't really pass-rush him. We had clear lanes at him and we still couldn't get to him before he got it off," Theriault said.
Beeson, Hanna and Keston Pilgrim scored rushing touchdowns for the Trojans, and Quincy gained 252 yards on the ground. Fullback Tyler Lacey led the Trojans with 73 yards rushing.
Colusa's defense was able to slow the Trojans offense in the second half by focusing on the fundamentals, linebacker R.J. Phillips said.
"The only thing on defense is we were making mental mistakes, I made one on that little pop pass. Basically, we just cleared our heads and came out (to play in the second half)."
The RedHawks focused on hitting drills earlier in the week and talked at halftime about wrapping up instead of going for a big hit, he said.
Phillips forced a fumble on defense that Lyss recovered, and caught three passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.
Colusa hosts first-place Hamilton (5-3, 3-0 MVL) on Friday with a chance to get back in the league title hunt on the line.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.