The Del Norte football team ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard after a back and forth fourth quarter, falling 18-14 in Arcata on the Tigers’ homecoming night.
“We came down and got on the board on our first drive, but then we didn’t execute and penalties put us in bad situations,” said Del Norte head coach Lewis Nova. “We came out in the second half and the kids responded really well. They played their tails off. We had a number of injuries, but the kids that were shuffled in responded well.”
Del Norte was trailing 12-6 late in the third quarter when sophomore Luke King stepped up to make a couple big plays to give the Warriors some life.
King got the Arcata quarterback for a sack on 3rd and 17 on the last play of the third quarter. The Tigers attempted to punt on the first play of the fourth quarter, but King burst through the line and blocked the punt, then recovered the kick at the Arcata 17 yard line.
The Del Norte offense came out in the wildcat formation like it had for most of the second half, and Aaron Young ran the ball six straight times, capped by a 5 yard touchdown run to tie the score at 12-12.
Cole Harper came out to attempt just his second extra point of the season to take the lead, but the Tigers where whistled for being offsides which moved the ball to the Arcata 1 yard line. Del Norte then elected to run Young again, and Young converted the two-point attempt for a 14-12 lead with 8:33 remaining in the game.
Young finished the game with 125 yards rushing on 25 carries for the Warriors.
“Young is a hell of a running back,” Nova said. “It was also good to see because we had some new linemen in there because of injuries and they were giving him the running room that he needed. We were making blocks for him and he ran really hard in the second half.”
Arcata answered back to retake the lead at 18-14 with a 16-play, 68 yard touchdown drive capped by a 5 yard run which took 5:35 off the clock.
After an effective squib kick by the Tigers, Del Norte took over on its own 14 yardline with just 2:53 remaining.
After a pair of runs, Del Norte went to the air for its final drive. Quarterback Ethan Price found Young over the middle for a 32 yard gain to move Del Norte into Arcata territory.
Price found Mason Mitchell for a 10-yard gain to the Arcata 39 yard line and a defensive holding call gave the Warriors a first down on the Tigers’ 30 with about 45 seconds remaining.
Del Norte moved the ball all the way to Arcata’s 22 yard line on a scramble by Price. But Price was sacked on the next play, forcing the Warriors to spike the ball to stop the clock with 21 seconds remaining and setting up fourth and 11 from the 31 yard line.
Del Norte couldn’t convert on a heave into the end zone, and Arcata escaped with a homecoming victory.
“It just shows the growth of my kids in that we were able to execute the hurry up and we moved the ball down the field,” Nova said. “Then again we just didn’t finish.”
The Warriors got off to a hot start offensively, taking the opening kickoff 75 yards in 10 plays, capped by a short touchdown pass to tight end Mason Mitchell from quarterback Ethan Price.
Del Norte struggled to get much going offensively for the rest of the half, however, as the Tigers defense held the Warriors to just 40 yards on its final four drives of the first half.
Arcata’s offense started slowly as the Warriors forced a three-and-out on the Tigers’ first possession and kept Arcata out of the end zone after first and goal on Del Norte’s 4 yard line after taking over on a short field.
The Tigers offense started to find its footing early in the second quarter and managed to tie the score on a six-play, 61 yard drive capped by a 20 yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 6-6 going into halftime.
The Warriors used the wildcat effectively throughout the second half, starting with their second possession after halftime.
Young carried the ball six straight times for 75 yards to set up the Warriors with first and goal at the Arcata 5 yard line, but the Tigers were able to make a goal line stand, forcing a turnover on downs and taking over at their own 13 yard line.
A 70 yard pass on third and seven gave the Tigers offense life, however, and Arcata punched in a 10 yard touchdown run two plays later to take a 12-6 lead.
Bye bye, bye week
The Warriors have officially added an extra game to their schedule after one game and possible two will be dropped off their schedule.
On Thursday, Nova confirmed that Del Norte has added a game for its originally scheduled bye week on Oct. 20 when the Warriors will head to Santa Rosa to take on Elsie Allen High School. Only the varsity teams will take the field in Santa Rosa with kickoff set for 6 p.m.
“It gives us some security so we don’t have to worry about only playing two games in five weeks,” Nova said. “You have to be on the field, that is the thing. That is what the kids practice for.”
Elsie Allen is playing in the North Coast Section Division V this season and 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the Sonoma County League.
Nova said next Friday’s game against McKinelvyille is still up in the air. The Panthers have had to forfeit their last four games.