A Sacramento Valley League shootout between the Colusa RedHawks and Winters Warriors ended well for the RedHawks last Friday night as they out-gunned the visitors to claim a 43-26 victory.
For Colusa, who was coming off an emotional loss to Pierce two weeks ago, it was a precarious start, as Warrior quarterback Matt Moore, the Northern Section’s leader in passing yards, engineered a seven-play 63-yard drive to give the Warriors a 7-0 lead.
But the RedHawks showed their resolve on the ensuing possession, answering with a 12-play, 85-yard march of their own that ended in a one-yard run by Emanuel Frias and a Joe Maciel extra point – with 59 seconds remaining in the opening quarter – to knot the score at 7-7.
Colusa’s poised response to adversity would be the theme all night, and was something head coach Mikey Badaluco felt was one of the most important takeaways from the game.
“The best thing about tonight was that we were put in situations due to injuries and penalties, and we didn’t let it shake us. We just kept making plays,” Badaluco said.
Such was the case on the Warriors’ next possession, when Julian Velazquez intercepted a pass on the last play of the first quarter to give the ball back to the RedHawks.
It didn’t take long for Colusa to capitalize. Just 15 seconds into the second period, the RedHawks put six more points on the board when Frias tossed a short pass to Nick Price, who did the rest, taking it 67 yards to the end zone to give the RedHawks a 13-7 advantage.
In a wild first quarter that saw a total of five touchdowns scored, it was only the beginning, as Winters responded to tie the game at 13.
After the kickoff return for a touchdown by Price was called back on a penalty, the RedHawks wasted little time in making up for it, as Frias hit Peyton Humphrey in stride on a 70-yard scoring play.
While Colusa tacked on another score with three minutes remaining in the half on a 23-yard run by Frias, the Warriors weren’t going down without a fight. Winters closed out the quarter with a touchdown of their own to make the score 25-20.
It would be more of the same in the third period as the RedHawks continued to move the ball and put points on the board, although the Warriors were still in the game after getting a touchdown of their own.
However, Price proved to be the difference maker, rushing for touchdowns from 18 and 37 yards, respectively, to extend Colusa’s advantage to 37-26 entering the final 12 minutes of the game.
Frias, who sat out the third quarter with a hand injury, returned and added some insurance to start the fourth quarter, taking it up the middle from eight yards out. But it was the RedHawk defense that put the game away by forcing two turnovers.
The first came at the seven-minute mark when Juan Arreguin forced a fumble that was plucked out of the air by Chonito Santana, while the final nail in the coffin for the Warriors was a pick by Velazquez, his second of the night.
Velazquez has been coming on of late, which has not gone unnoticed by Badaluco and his staff.
“Julian had a good summer, and has been dealing with an injury, but he has been lights out the last couple of weeks, and we have tons of confidence in him,” Badaluco said, of his junior defensive back.
Yet, the star of the night was Price, who seemed to be everywhere, and all the while making significant plays.
Price, who rushed for 117 yards on seven carries, caught four balls for 84 yards, scored three times, had two touchdowns called back, in addition to having a nice game on defense, and drawing high praise from his coach after the game.
“Nick is our utility knife,” Badaluco said of the senior, who is among the section leaders in receiving yards and scoring. “Tonight, he saved us in the pass game, the run game, on defense, and in the return game.”
Also making important contributions for Colusa, was Frias, who despite missing the third quarter, carried 11 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns, then completed six passes for 162 yards and two more scores.
While the RedHawks (5-1,1-1) enjoyed the homecoming victory, they know that things are not getting any easier as SVL play continues this week when they visit Durham to take on the Trojans. ■