A blue wave of joy swept across the College of the Siskiyous football field Saturday after Alfred Deloach-King’s pass interception in the end zone sealed a 20-14 overtime victory against City College of the San Francisco.
The second game of the season was a win worth celebrating for the home team: It was only the second time in 12 tries in COS school history that the Eagles have defeated San Francisco, a program that boasts 10 national, 8 state, 15 Nor Cal, and 30 conference football championships. And just one year ago, the Rams rolled to a 43-13 victory over the Eagles in San Francisco.
Saturday’s victory confirmed what Siskiyous’ head coach Charlie Roche had already been feeling about this year’s Eagles, who are now 2-0: “Our kids fight, fight, fight,” an excited Roche said after the game. “They find ways to win... They were ready for the longevity and toughness of this game. They each believed they would get it done, and they did. It’s an awesome group of kids; they’re tough and they play hard, and that’s what we want here.”
The Eagles scored their winning points on a 27 yard touchdown pass from Gage Ferguson to Tremayne Tolbert on the second play of the overtime period. Tolbert and a San Francisco defender both went up in the end zone for the ball, which initially landed in a tangle of four arms. But it was Tolbert alone who had possession when they landed.
The Eagle defense, which wasn’t able to stop San Francisco on a game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter, held the Rams to five yards on three running plays in overtime before Deloach-King started the celebration with his second interception of the game, just a couple yards away from the spot where Tolbert made his touchdown catch.
Deloach-King was swarmed by excited teammates who ran with him nearly all the way to the other end of the field.
Tolbert, one of two returning all-conference receivers on the Eagles’ roster, said his touchdown catch and the victory were all about desire.
“I just wanted to make plays for the team,” he said. “We came together and executed. It’s all about who wanted it more.”
Likewise, on the his overtime TD catch, Tolbert said, “I wanted it more and came down with it.”
The victory over San Francisco, “means a lot,” he said. “It gives us a boost of confidence.”
Roche said the Eagle defense has “played lights out two weeks in a row; they’re just flying to the football.”
One of the team’s top defenders has been Daniel Hardy, a 6-foot-4, 206 pound freshman linebacker from Beaverton, Ore, who wears number 9. Hardy was credited with 8 tackles Saturday, two pass breakups, and one of the Eagles’ three quarterback sacks. He and Deloach-King were both exhorting the crowd to make more noise during the two timeouts that preceded the game’s final play.
After the game, Hardy said the Eagles’ coaches reminded the players all week in practice about the number of times they’ve lost to San Francisco in the past. He called the win “a huge testament to how much heart this team has and how far we can go this season. We’re shooting for the stars.”
Longtime Siskiyous assistant coach Phil Maas said defensive coordinator Tyler Knudsen “called a great game” against CCSF.
Knudsen was fired up on the sidelines after the Eagle defense preserved a 14-7 lead early in the third quarter after San Francisco had a first-and-goal at the five yard line.
The Eagles’ 14-0 half time lead had just been sliced to 14-7 on a nine-yard touchdown run by Isaiah Floyd, who provided most of the Rams’ offense with 193 yards on 30 carries in the game.
Then the Eagles turned the ball over on a fumble at their own 19 yard line, and Floyd immediately ran for 14 yards. But sophomore linebacker Bobby Willoughby, who finished with a game-high 10 total tackles, stopped Floyd on the next play for a five-yard loss.
Sophomore defensive lineman Justin Kaelin sacked San quarterback Oliver Svirsky on the next play for a one-yard loss, then sophomore defensive back Rashaan Broomfield and sophomore linebacker Trace Cummings ran Svirsky out of bounds at the 7 yard line to force a 24 yard field goal try that missed wide left.
The Eagles needed to go just 14 yards for their first touchdown after Floyd lost a fumble on the second play of the game. Ferguson completed a 7 yard touchdown pass to their other returning all-conference receiver, Chance Nelson of Corning, and Kyle Stenkowski kicked the PAT less than two minutes into the game.
It was 14-0 early in the second quarter after Andrew Kannely-Robles of Yreka scored on a 6 yard run and Stenkowski kicked the PAT to cap a 10-play 93-yard drive.
With just over 5 minutes to play in the game, after San Francisco used all three of its second half timeouts, Stenkowski’s 43-yard field goal attempt was blocked and recovered by the Rams near midfield.
They needed just 6 plays to reach pay dirt, three of them runs by quarterback Zach Masoli, who came in when Svirsky was injured. That tied the score with just under 3 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Roche praised the way his team regrouped after that and showed its ability to “go to the next play.”
San Francisco fell to 0-2, including a 17-14 loss to Laney. Siskiyous takes its 2-0 record on the road next Saturday to face De Anza (1-1) in Cupertino.