Just seven days after getting blown out at Sutter, the Arcata Tigers came roaring back to life on Friday night, rolling over Balboa, 58-26, in a high-scoring showdown at McKinleyville High.
And what a dominating performance it was, with the Tigers scoring on six of their opening seven possessions, and taking a 40-7 lead before the visitors managed a first down.
“I thought our defense played a lot better,” head coach Jamal Jones said. “We’ve got guys in spots where they can be successful. We had a hell of a week of practice, and they came out and they did their job. It was a good day.”
Jones described it as his team’s best defensive performance in two years, with the visitors’ only score against the Arcata starters coming on special teams.
Senior quarterback Shane Purcell threw for four first-half TDs and ran in for another.
Two of the scoring passes went to Alex Jioras, one from three yards out — after the senior receiver pulled in a sensational one handed catch to set up the score — and one from 15 yards out.
Carson Tucker also scored two first half TDs, one on a reception from Purcell and one on a 20-yard run late in the first quarter to give the home team a 28-7 lead.
Purcell had plenty of time to throw the ball behind a dominating display by his line.
Outside of some impressive kickoff returns, including an 80-yard return for a TD right after the Tigers took a 14-0 lead, the Buccaneers had problems moving the ball.
Their first six possessions all were three-and-out and they didn’t record a first down until late in the second quarter.
After Purcell stretched Arcata’s advantage to five TDs on a 15-yard run early in the second quarter, he connected with Ty Franklin on a 24-yard TD pass on their following drive.
Franklin also had a two-point reception in the first half, while Alex Gorge ran in for another two-point conversion.
Linebacker Jared Wallace also had a huge first half, as did the entire Arcata defense, as the visitors repeatedly fumbled the snap and took big losses on several plays.
Purcell and Gorge each also scored on second-half TD runs.
With the win, the Tigers improved to 1-2.