Redwood trounces Panthers in fourth quarter
Trailing by four points, the Rangers scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to defeat the Panthers
By Jermaine Johnson II @Jerm_10
VISALIA – The Rangers continued their dominant start to the season with a 34-17 victory over Porterville.
After a strong 13-0 start to the game, Redwood surrendered 17 unanswered points, and trailed for the first time all season. They were down 17-13 heading into the fourth quarter before the team garnered some momentum on both sides of the ball, outscoring the Panthers 21-0 in the final period.
“With five minutes to go in the game, it’s almost like our team woke up and we started making some plays,” Redwood head coach Kevin Scharton said. “It’s something we missed in the second and third quarter. We didn’t have anybody making those plays and those are big momentum builders.”
He said that this game was a bit of a wake-up call for his team, as they had flat practices all week which translated to how they played in the game.
Nonetheless, the Rangers got out to a 13-0 start following two first quarter touchdown runs by senior Diamond Davis. He was filling in for the injured James Richardson who suffered a concussion in the first quarter of the last game against Atascadero. Davis and Caden Shafer carried the load at running back, combining for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
The Panthers struggled to move the ball in the first quarter. A large part of that was likely due to the team being without starting quarterback Hector Nava, and leading rusher Isaiah Ellis due to injuries.
Adam Daguman started at quarterback for the first time in his varsity career, and was previously the team’s starting safety in the first four games. After he got through the first period, he took command of the Panther offense. He was scrambling to escape pressure, running for first downs and completed some big passes to his receivers. He led two strong drives down the field, ending both with touchdown passes.
The Panthers’ defense tightened up, not allowing the Rangers to get much going offensively. They went into half time up 14-13, and then senior Nick Ward extended their lead by three points with a 34-yard field goal in the third quarter.
The kick was set up by a questionable unnecessary roughness call on a Ranger defensive back against a Porterville receiver. That call gave the Panthers 15 yards and put them in range for their kicker.
Redwood has dominated teams all season, so it was unfamiliar territory to be trailing at the half. With under a minute left they were in the red zone and junior Christian Roldan let a touchdown pass slip through his hands, and into the hands of Porterville’s Danny Castaneda. During the break, Scharton felt like they didn’t need to make many adjustments, they simply just needed to play better.
“We just didn’t execute. Whether we ran the wrong route, threw to the wrong receiver, or missed a block…we were always one step or one play away from continuing a drive,” he said.
Trailing by four points, the Rangers put together a strong drive to close out the third quarter. They opened the final period with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Rios to Brian Brown. Brown, a senior, is playing in his first football season since middle school. Brown was a difference maker for Redwood, racking up five receptions for 79 yards and two touchdowns. His final touchdown came on an amazing 23-yard catch over a defender in the end zone. That touchdown gave his team some much needed cushion, as they now had a 27-17 lead with 2:15 remaining in the game. That score was set up by the defense as Dominick McCormack intercepted Daguman who tried to force the ball into triple coverage.
Daguman threw another interception on the next drive, as Redwood sophomore linebacker Marcus Garvey Correia took it all the way the house for six. That touchdown sealed the win for Redwood as they won 34-17.
Despite the two late interceptions, Porterville head coach Michael Machado was pleased with the performance of his backup quarterback.
“Daguman was just sensational when you talk about his situation. His only reps [at quarterback] were at practice this week,” Machado said. “We’re running a spread offense so he had to make a lot of a decisions and they come really fast when you’ve never played at this level. For him to show up like that and play that well, it just doesn’t happen very often.”
The injuries to starters Hector Nava and Isaiah Ellis are expected to be minor, and they should be back for their next game against Mission Oak.
Overall, Machado is pleased with how his team fought, specifically after trailing by two touchdowns early on.
After big wins at Dinuba and Golden West, and then being competitive against Redwood with injured starters, Machado is confident that his team can compete with any team. They’ll look to make a push at the East Yosemite League title, but will have a tough path to the top.