By SIM RISSO
For The Union Democrat
Trailing the Modesto Christian Crusaders, 25-20, in their home opener at Frank Meyer Field, the Calaveras Redskins got the ball back at their own 29-yard line with 3:34 remaining. The Redskins needed to drive 71 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
To open the drive, the Redskins went with a play that had been working all night long, an outside sweep to sophomore Mike Seawell with Austin Weatherby out front as a lead blocker, netting 10 yards.
"Seawell does a great job setting the block up," said Weatherby. "He'll
cut inside and make the blocker go in, then I have a chance to block
him in, then he'll cut out again. It's nothing I really do except get
in his way."
Now with first-and-10 from their own 39-yard line, Zach Johnson
dropped back to pass. After a quick three-step drop, Johnson connected
with tight end Brian Golston for a huge 22-yard gain.
"It was supposed to be a Y hot pop pass, but the guy shifted over,
so I thought I'd just go up behind him," said Golston. "Zach just threw
a perfect ball to me. It just connected right at the right moment. I
should have broke free from that."
Two consecutive plays by Weatherby - one an 8-yard run and the
second a nice 11-yard swing pass from Johnson - moved the ball to the
Modesto Christian 20-yard line.
Runs by Seawell, Hodgson and Weaver took the ball down to the
Crusaders 11-yard line. Calaveras was facing fourth-and-1 with 0:38
remaining. A quarterback sneak by Johnson gave the Redskins two yards
and the first down.
Calaveras was now facing first-and-goal at the Modesto 9-yard line.
They had traveled 62 yards, but still needed nine more yards for the
winning score and were running short on time.
Another run by Johnson took it down to the 4-yard line. But from
there, the Crusaders' defense would make a stand, forcing three
consecutive incomplete passes and capturing the win, 25-20.
"We were trying to get down into a position to be able to score,"
said Calaveras head coach Jason Weatherby. "We drove the ball quite a
ways and got down there pretty close. And then basically ran out of
time. If we had another minute on the clock or another timeout, it
might be a different story. But we just couldn't get it."
Coming into the game, the Crusaders had shown the ability to put
points on the board scoring 41 points and 34 points in their first two
games. Calaveras was able to hold the Crusaders high-powered offense to
25, so in that sense it was a real solid effort from the Redskins.
"The defense overall did good," said Calaveras defensive
coordinator Doug Clark. "That quarterback's excellent, like we knew.
The receivers are good. It's a solid offense. I knew it was going to be
a solid offense. We knew they were going to score."
But the area where the Crusaders were able to have their most
success was with the big play, as they had five plays that went for
over 30 yards. Two of those plays went for touchdowns. The first one
was a 48-yard touchdown pass on a fake punt from Nathan Sudfeld to
Kaden Cline with 0:53 remaining in the first half. The second was a
32-yard touchdown run by Javaughn Iversen with 11:48 to go in the
"That fake punt killed us," said Clark. "A couple of deep bombs,
that hurts us. Overall, I think we stopped them decently, just the big
plays again. They marched it and we held them. You just can't give up
that many big plays. You've got to stop the big plays. The big plays
will get you."
Calaveras, for its part, did a solid job on offense against
Modesto, especially in the ground game. The Redskins were able to rack
up 269 yards on the ground against the Crusaders with Austin Weatherby
and Kellen Hodgson combining for 187 yards.
Two of the Redskins three scores came on the ground. Austin
Weatherby scored from six yards out on the final play of the first
half. Then with 7:59 left in the third quarter, Joe Elliott bulled his
way into the endzone on an 8-yard run. The Redskins other score came in
the second quarter on a fumble recovery by Troy McCann.
"Run-wise I thought we did really well," said Coach Weatherby.
"Pass-wise not quite as good. We didn't throw the ball because we were
able to run the ball. If we kept getting first downs running the ball
then we're good. But whenever you do that, a penalty puts you back in a
position where you've got to throw."
But a huge part of that success has to be credited to the offensive
line, which did an excellent job opening up holes for the backs.
"I thought they performed really well," said Weatherby of his
offensive line. "We moved the ball every time. And the only time we
didn't was from a penalty - we had that chop block call that moved them
Penalties were the Achilles heel for Calaveras with the team
getting penalized nine times. And a few of those penalties came in
crucial situations, which prevented Calaveras from sustaining some of
its lengthy drives.
Coming up next is the Sonora Wildcats, who lost their game on
Friday in similar fashion. It should make for a great matchup of two
highly-motivated football teams.
"We played hard," said Golston. "We had a couple of mental errors.
We played hard and just fought. That's all you can ask for. We're going
to go to practice and fix our mental errors. It's all a mental part of
the game. It's just what it is. It's in the books now, so there's
nothing you can do about it. You've just got to look forward to Sonora.
It's going to be a fun ride from here."