Comets maintain lead over Knights, earn first place in PAC 7

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

The quest for 50 points continues after the Comets beat the Knights 44-27 to win the battle for first place in the Pac 7 at Comet Stadium on Saturday.

Contra Costa College (7-1 overall, 4-0 in the Pac 7) continued to be plagued by penalties, but forcing turnovers, and big-play ability on offense, would overcome any obstacle placed before them.

“This season isn’t over,” Comet coach Alonzo Carter said. “This is just another step on the path (toward the playoffs).”

After both teams punted the ball away early, Shasta College (6-2 overall, 3-1 in the American Pacific 7) struck first. Scoring on a short touchdown pass that fully shifted momentum in the Knight’s direction.

Running back Harold Halcomb III, chipped his way through the teeth of the SC defensive line. Halcomb loosened the Knight’s defense enough for quarterback Jonathan Banks to shake SC linebacker Christian Paolinetti out of his helmet and race up the middle of the field to score a 77-yard touchdown.

“We weren’t on in the first half,” Banks said. “We regrouped in the second half and executed the things we went over in practice.”

Banks finished the game running for two touchdowns and throwing for two more.

A visibly shaken SC squad fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and faced a third and 16 after a CCC sack. The Comet’s were then charged with an equipment violation, (visor) which allowed the Knights to compose themselves, and pick up the first down with a 19-yard pass.

The defense was scolded for its substantial mental lapses. They responded by forcing and recovering a fumble on the very next hand-off to pave the way for a 19-yard touchdown run by Halcomb. The extra point, however, failed.

With the score at 13-7, the stunned Knights fumbled the following kick return. CCC recovered and then made a good on the gaffe by putting up 3-points with a 32-yard Lorran Fonseca field goal.

The Comets love fest of self-inflected wounds continued. On the following play, SC threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown but was recalled due to a CCC player getting a blocking penalty in backfield. CCC retained possession, but the drive failed to produce points due to a missed Fonseca field goal.

Big plays by Comet defenders Terrance Alexander and Chauncey Carter held the Knights to short gains. But a miscommunication on defense allowed a 27-yard SC touchdown with 7:29 remaining in the second quarter.

The rollercoaster momentum swings couldn’t have been clearer than when under four minutes to go in the second quarter, Banks threw an interception on the 20-yard line. This gave the Knights a chance to score another touchdown before the break.

At the half, the Knights led 21-16.

To start the third quarter, the Comets ripped off yards with running back Kruger Story Jr. by forcing the SC defense to creep closer to stop the bruising running back. This eased the Knights defensive coverage enough for Banks to hit Larry Cornish III for a 32-yard touchdown pass.

The CCC defense looked to make a definitive mark on the game and also atone for the missed scoring opportunity on the earlier interception.

With 8:47 to go in the third the Knights offensive drives were gobbling up chunks of yards. Until Comet linebacker Chima Onyeukwu returned a SC fumble to score, only to have it overturned by a taunting penalty.

“We knew we were the better team, we just wanted to come out and punch them in the mouth,” C. Carter said. “We made good adjustments, and executed what we did in practice all week.”

Getting the ball back was enough for CCC. Banks ran a quarterback keeper, reversed field and snaked through defending Knights for his second touchdown run of the day.

The Comets raised their defensive intensity and forced another Shasta punt that was punctuated by a tenacious sack by linebacker Steven Mills.

The defense would only intensify as the end of the fourth quarter drew nearer, big plays by Lavon Washington, and a punt block by Tyler Shields-Toomey that allowed receiver Jamachel Torrez catch the final CCC touchdown of the game.

With 13:35 on the clock in the third quarter, Carter pulled his defense aside and challenged them to take this game over. They accepted his challenge by not allowing an offensive point the last two quarters.

CCC puts their first place ranking on the line Saturday against Mendocino College in Ukiah at 1 p.m.