Physical Huskies hold on late to top University Prep

Photo courtesy of the Fortuna Huskies – The Fortuna players celebrate their big win on Friday night.

The Fortuna Huskies got the new football season off to an impressive start with a 27-15 victory over a good University Prep team at Husky Field on Friday night.

Despite some expected opening-game penalties and confusion, the Huskies set the tone for the season with a physical performance that augurs well going forward.

“For game one, I was very happy with our effort,” head coach Mike Benbow said. “We came out and we were very physical. You just don’t know what a team is going to do in the first game and I was very happy with how physical we were.”

There were several standouts for the home team, including Jake Houseworth and Chandler Crenshaw, who set the physical tempo defensively at linebacker and defensive end, respectively.

Left tackle Ivan Moore also enjoyed a big opening game and lived up to his billing as the Huskies’ leader on the offensive line.

“He’s our leader and we ran the ball behind him when we had to,” Benbow said. “He played really well, on both offense and defense.”

The Huskies had a balanced offensive performance, running for 245 yards and passing for 146 on their way to opening up a 27-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

But the visiting Panthers, a perennial powerhouse in the Northern Section, battled to the end.

Quarterback Sawyer Hokanson threw an 18-yard fourth-quarter TD pass to pull them within two TDs and the Panthers then tried an onside kick, which was recovered by the home team.

However, after driving deep into University territory, a Fortuna fumble handed the ball back to the Panthers, who quickly marched the length of the field.

But the Huskies stepped up once more to end the threat, when cornerback Tegan Rumley intercepted a Hokanson pass in the end zone, and the home team was able to hold on for the win.

“It was a group effort and that’s what you love to see, especially in game one,” Benbow said.

Quarterback Chad Mussey was instrumental in the victory and appears set for a memorable senior season.

Mussey rushed for 74 yards on 20 carries and completed 10 of 14 passes for 146 yards and two TDs and one interception.

Before the game, Benbow talked about how special the connection between Mussey and Rumley at receiver could be this season and the two close friends lived up the billing in the opener.

In addition to late interception, Rumley also had six catches for 65 yards and a touchdown, as well as running for 19 yards on two carries.

Houseworth added two catches for 44 yards and a TD, as well as rushing for 17 yards on four carries, while Caden Wilkinson led the ground attack with 124 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown.

Chris Duey also scored a rushing touchdown and had nine yards on four carries.

The Fortuna JVs also impressed in their season opener, but lost by one point, falling 27-26.

Fortuna hosts Arcata next Friday.

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