The Del Norte football team held a lead for the entire second half against Fortuna on Friday. Although the Huskies never allowed the Warriors to put the game away, Del Norte never let Fortuna retake the lead as the Warriors held on for a 49-42 victory.
With the win, Del Norte is now 1-0 in Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 games. Fortuna’s 60-30 win over the Warriors two weeks ago was a non-league game.
“To experience what we did the last time that we played them and then to come out from the bell and went after it,” said Del Norte head coach Lewis Nova. “Both teams went after each other and our kids showed how much they have grown in the last couple of weeks. They showed that they want to compete.”
After falling behind 7-0 early in the game, Del Norte answer back with a 74-yard touchdown drive, capped by an 8-yard touchdown pass from OJ Calleja to Ethan Price.
On the next possession David Chaves forced a Fortuna fumble near midfield and Giovanni Gonzalez scooped it up and returned it 47 yards for the touchdown and a 12-7 lead.
Fortuna answered back with a 55-yard touchdown drive to go ahead by two points, but Sebastian Puente broke off the first of his four touchdown runs with a 79-yard scamper up the middle and a 19-14 lead.
The Huskies were once again able to answer back, this time with a 65-yard drive capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass on fourth and four — Fortuna’s second touchdown on a fourth down play of the half.
With just 3:10 left before halftime, the Del Norte offense was able to answer back. Price hauled in a 41-yard pass from Calleja to put the Warriors in business at the Fortuna 30 yard line, and Putente ran into the end zone from 8 yards out five plays later with just 36 seconds until halftime.
Early in the second half Del Norte made it a two-possession game on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Gonzalez to Price on a reverse pass for a 33-21 lead.
Fortuna kept the game close in the fourth quarter, but each time the Huskies scored Puente had an immediate answer.
After a 79-yard touchdown drive by the Huskies, Puente ripped off a 59-yard touchdown run on Del Norte’s first play after the kickoff to go back ahead 41-28.
A few minutes later Puente answered an 11-play 65-yard Fortuna touchdown drive with a one-play 54-yard touchdown run up the middle to make it 49-35.
Fortuna was able to put together another drive to cut the Warriors’ lead back to a touchdown at 49-42, but Del Norte was nearly able to run out the clock, only giving the ball back to the Huskies with 28 seconds left at its own 12 yard line.
Del Norte finished the game with 294 yards rushing on 31 carries, led by Puente with 226 yards on 13 rushes and four touchdowns.
“You sit there and you look at our offensive line and a running back (Sebastian Puente) who I don’t know how many yards he had, but it was a lot,” Nova said. “Every time they came down and scored we would answer them right back. That was a big relief for us on the sideline. That took the kids believing in themselves. The last time we played them we would drop back on our heels in a scenario like that, but in this game we were on our toes and we were moving forward. That is what makes big plays happen.”
With the win, Del Norte improves to 7-1 overall this season and 1-0 in the Big 4 league standings.
“Being 1-0 in a three-game league is big,” Nova said. “Looking down the road to the playoffs, getting a win over a team of Fortuna’s caliber just adds to it for us.”
The Warriors will be back in action next Friday in Eureka for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Reach Michael Zogg at email@example.com .