By Ray Hamill — In the words of College of the Redwoods head coach Jason White, Saturday’s showdown against West Hills Coalinga at the Redwood Bowl was a “funky, weird game.”
It was a game that served up some thrilling plays, as well as way too many penalties and mistakes, and when the visitors walked away with a 27-21 win the CR faithful were left with the feeling this was one that got away.
“You don’t win too many games turning the ball over four times and (making) multiple penalties and blown coverages and everything else,” White said. “We made too many mistakes and we didn’t handle it right.”
But the Falcons matched the home team in scoring over the first two quarters, taking the lead two minutes into the game on a 70-yard drive that saw them convert a pair of fourth downs, and then closing out the half with a 75-yard punt return for a TD.
After back-to-back three-and-out drives to open the game, the Corsairs finally got their offense going when quarterback Max Hough combined with Aguilar on a 78-yard passing TD, with the receiver catching the ball near midfield and out running the Falcons defense to the end zone.
Aguilar then gave the Corsairs the lead four minutes before halftime on an opportunistic play.
Aguilar, however, was well positioned to scoop up the ball and ran into the end zone untouched.
“Carlos played really well and did the things he needed to do,” White said of the former Hoopa standout, who finished with a team-high six receptions for 154 yards. “It just wasn’t enough.”
Aguilar wasn’t the only former H-DNL player who made a big play.
With the Corsairs trailing by seven late in the game, Donte Hurt blocked a West Hills punt at the goal line and Eureka’s Drew Jensen scooped the ball and ran in from two yards out.
“I was happy for him,” White said of Jensen, who also had a big sack early in the second quarter to help settle the defense down. “I told him after the game he did his job. When you get a chance to make plays you’ve got to get in there and do that.”
But just as soon as they had lost the momentum, the Falcons got it right back, retaking the lead just four plays later on a 30-yard TD pass from quarterback Gem Boyd to Ashton Goal with 3:26 on the game clock.
The Corsairs had one more opportunity, but came up just inches short on a Hough run on a fourth-and-10 with under two minutes remaining, and the visitors were able to run out the clock after taking over on downs.
The Corsairs also had two second-half touchdowns called back on penalties, getting flagged a total of 11 times for for 93 yards.
Defensively, the Corsairs grew into the game after lengthy back-to-back West Hills drives in the opening quarter, which saw the visitors convert three fourth downs and a pair of third downs.
“We played well for the most part (on defense), but we kept letting them convert third and fourth downs,” White said. “You’ve got to take those opportunities to get them off the field.”
Boyd did a good job scrambling and kept the CR defense on its toes throughout, while also completing 21 of 42 passes for 312 yards.
Tyse Whigham and Tanner Forkner were both outstanding once again for the CR defense.
Whigham had eight tackles, two sacks and 4.5 tackles for a loss, while Forkner had seven tackles, one sack and one tackle for a loss.
Defensive back Mason Priddy also continued to excel and had a couple of key pass breakups while also blocking a first-quarter field goal attempt.
“Our kids kept fighting, it was just a funky, weird game,” White said. “Most of the time the difference between winning and losing a game is two or three plays.”
The Corsairs will try to bounce back when they travel to play Monterey Peninsula next weekend.
“We’ve got to take a look at what we’re doing,” White said. “We’ve got to look at ourselves.”