Down 34-7 with 14 minutes left, Del Norte forces overtime but falls short
Del Norte High quarterback Dylan Pease found Nathan Porter in a corner of the end zone, and the Warriors took the lead over the Fortuna Huskies in overtime - for the first time in Friday night's contest at Mike Whalen Field.
Del Norte held onto a 40-34 lead as Porter took the extra point - and missed wide right.
One play later, Huskies running back Colton Ross barged into the end zone from 10 yards away. Fortuna kicker Bryant Head lined up for the go-ahead extra point ... and nailed it.
The Huskies knocked the Warriors out of playoff contention with the 41-40 overtime victory. Del Norte's (2-6 overall, 1-4 Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League) loss proved particularly wrenching, given another furious comeback from another slow start.
Ross' 90-yard touchdown run with 2:14 in the third quarter appeared to be the dagger in the Warriors' hearts. When the Huskies failed to catch the extra point snap - putting the score at 34-7 - it seemed irrelevant in light of the previous 34 minutes.
However, Del Norte sophomore Chad Bell responded with a 65-yard touchdown with 1:40 remaining in the third quarter. Bell, starting at running back in place of the injured Jackson Evans, enjoyed a breakout performance with 150 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He began the day with seven carries for seven yards in limited action running the football.
The Warriors defense recovered two fumbles and received a critical fourth-down stop from junior linebacker Robin Pearce in the fourth quarter. Pease responded in part with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Fitch, and fullback Jordan Carpenter added a two-yard touchdown run to pull Del Norte within a score.
Holding onto the ball in the final seconds of regulation, the Warriors caught a break with a fumble recovery and a Fortuna penalty. Pease found Fitch a second time, from two yards out, with six seconds remaining in the game.
Amid the transition from touchdown catch to extra point attempt, Del Norte was flagged for an illegal substitution penalty, backing up what could've been the game-winning extra point for Porter and the Warriors.
Fortuna blocked the kick. To overtime, both teams would go.
Del Norte JV 21, Fortuna JV 6
The Warriors' junior varsity squad improved its overall record to 6-2 overall (4-1 Big 5 League) as Del Norte defeated the Huskies.
Warriors sophomore Steven Maready returned the second-half kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown and tacked on a 45-yard interception return touchdown late in the fourth quarter to ice the game. Sophomore Matthew Coopman also scored on a 28-yard run in the first quarter.
Reach Robert Husseman email@example.com.