Wolverines get grizzly over the Panthers
ROCKLIN– The last time Sierra College faced off against Sacramento City College, Wolverines running back Ryan Graham had an MVP type performance as he carried the ball 22 times for 241 yards and three touchdowns.
In Saturday’s Northern California Grizzly Bowl at Sierra College, Graham ran for 187 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, earning the MVP award as his team defeated the Panthers 24-10 – earning their second win of the season against Sac City.
“We had to make some adjustments in the second half,” said Graham as both teams were scoreless in the first half. “We had to regroup and focus up at halftime. We got a little more push in the second half and it just made the difference in the game.”
Sac City received the ball in the second half but because of two personal foul penalties before the end of the first half, Sierra got to kick the ball from the Panthers’ 30-yard line. Because of the short field, the Wolverines decided to go for an onside kick and were able to recover.
Sierra then had to settle for a field goal from 24 yards from Fernando Esparza and later went up 10-0 when Joe Curry connected with Joshua Farr on a 56-yard touchdown. The Panthers immediately responded on a drive that took only two plays and was capped off when Rueben Lee caught a 17-yard pass from Jayden Machado.
Sac City not only tied the game but also scored its final points of the game on a 24-yard field goal from Aaron Ortiz.
“They played with all they had,” said Panthers head coach Dannie Walker on his team’s performance. “That’s the great thing about the bowl game – you’re handed the next opportunity to play and extend your season, and that’s what they appreciate the most.”
In the fourth quarter, the Wolverines brought in backup quarterback Preston Eklund, who ran only two plays but completed a 48-yard pass to Hassani Zackery that led to a 7-yard touchdown run by Graham.
Zackery finished the game with seven receptions and 80 yards. Later, the Wolverines were able to pull away when Graham broke free from tackles and ran for a 51-yard touchdown that put his team up 24-10 with 6:36 remaining in the game.
For the Panthers, Machado completed 17 of 33 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown. He got the ball to Lee eight times for 88 yards. Machado was also intercepted by William Brocchini twice in the game – with both coming in the first quarter while Machado was being pressured.
Earlier in the season when the Wolverines beat the Panthers 38-30 at Hughes Stadium, Brocchini also came up with two interceptions on Machado, including one that sealed the game for Sierra.
Both teams combined for 25 penalties in the game as the majority were called for late hits and taunting.
“Players (have) got to be able to control their emotions,” said Walker. “Guys were trying to do a little more than what they should be doing and that’s where you get the errors in the game. There are things we will address because we know which (penalties) were disciplined and we know which ones were errors.”
Sierra finishes its season at 7-4, including a 3-2 mark in the NorCal Conference.