OJ Calleja enjoyed a memorable debut with College of the Siskiyous on Saturday.
The former Del Norte quarterback was one of six H-DNL players to feature in the JC showdown between Siskiyous and Shasta College in Redding, the first non-Division-I football game in the state in 15 months.
The game itself was sloppy for the most part and a defensive affair up until the final minute, and that’s when things got interesting.
Trailing 13-8, Shasta scored a touchdown to pull ahead by three with just 42 seconds remaining.
But Calleja and the Siskiyous offense responded by marching 76 yards for the winning score, with the former Del Norte QB completing two big passes for first downs along the way, including one on a fourth-and-10, to set up the game-winning heroics.
On the final play of the game, Calleja connected on a miracle 37-yard scoring completion to receiver Ted Wickman, who somehow pulled in the reception on a ball that bounced fortuitously into his hand after it was almost intercepted.
He then ran two yards into the end zone to give the Eagles an unlikely 19-16 win.
Numerous other H-DNL players featured in the game, including Calleja’s former Del Norte teammate Anthony Slayton, who plays linebacker for Shasta and came up with a big tackle on that final drive.
A third Del Norte player, Nikolas Freeman, started at safety for Siskiyous, while Eureka’s Josiah Graham (WR/special teams) and Antorious Bell (DB/special teams), and Hoopa’s Carlos Aguilar (DB) each also featured.
For the game, Calleja completed 12-of-24 pass attempts for 171 yards and the one TD.
Graham had one catch for three yards, while Freeman had two tackles and a pass breakup, and Slayton had two tackles.