The Hoopa Warriors overcame a difficult start to settle into their game at Etna on Friday night, but saw the momentum slip away early in the second half on the way to a 32-14 loss.
After what head coach Sonny Ryles described as a “sloppy” start to the game, the Warriors found themselves 19-6 down heading into the second half but made a couple of big defensive stops to build momentum.
Back-to-back ensuing turnovers, however, handed the ball right back to the home team and the Warriors were unable to recover.
Fatigue also played a role in a game that was played at 3,000 feet.
“I didn’t do a good job preparing my team and getting them in shape for the elevation,” Ryles said. “A lot of fatigue prevented us making some blocks, some tackles.”
Early-season injuries haven’t helped matters either for the Warriors, who went into the game without starting quarterback John Smith, who suffered a concussion the previous week against St. Bernard’s.
Despite the loss, however, there were some bright spots for the Warriors, most notably the play of receivers Carlos Aguilar and Jasper Hostler.
The senior duo made some nice catches on throws from quarterback Tristin Campbell, as the Hoopa offense moved the ball well at times after a shaky start.
“We drove the ball well, we just didn’t finish,” Ryles said.
Hostler scored Hoopa’s first touchdown on a slant reception he took 60-plus yards to the end zone.
Campbell added the second touchdown in the second half, scoring on an 11-yard scramble on a fourth-down play.
“I thought our pass game was good, and our pass blocking was better,” Ryles said. “And our screen game improved from the St. Bernard’s game.”
The Warriors, who dropped to 0-2, will have a bye in action next weekend before hosting three straight games, including a final non-conference matchup against Trinity on September 20.