The University playmakers proved too hot for the Fortuna Huskies in their season opener in Redding on Friday night, with the home team winning 41-19.
The Huskies started well and after their defense held the Panthers to a quick three-and-out, they marched the length of the field and took the lead on a five-yard Matt Letter touchdown run and a Will Stringer PAT.
The home team responded immediately, however, and quickly took control of the game.
So too did Letter, despite the loss.
The senior team leader ran for three touchdowns, setting up his opening score with a big 30-yard gain up the middle.
Letter, who also played well defensively, finished with 123 yards rushing on 23 carries.
Other bright spots for the Huskies included Rogan Gans, who had an interception on defense and two catches for 18 yards.
“Our passing game had some issues early, but we kind of got back into rhythm,” said Benbow, who added “We played tough. We fought the whole way.”
Quarterback Coltyn Corning completed 7-of-19 passes for 103 yards, with Quin Hall pulling in two receptions for 36 yards and Stringer adding two receptions for 35 yards and three carries for 40 yards.
Jake Houseworth also had a good game at middle linebacker and tight end, where he had a 14-yard reception, while Chad Mussey had three carries for 56 yards.
Junior lineman Emmitt Lumpkin also played well.
“I was really pleased with some of our back-up players,” Benbow said.
The Fortuna JVs, meanwhile, gave University all it could handle, but came up just short, 21-20.
After falling behind 21-0 early in the game, the Huskies pulled themselves back into the contention and scored a third touchdown with seconds remaining to cut the deficit to one.
A penalty, however, pushed them out of two-point range and the attempt came up short.
Both Fortuna teams will try to bounce back at Justin-Siena next week.