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Sierra rallies with 42-point second half

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Sierra College found a quarterback Saturday afternoon. Then the Wolverines found the end zone. And with a 42-point eruption in the second half, Jeff Tisdel’s team found out how to win. Tisdel pulled starting quarterback Sam Martinez in the second quarter with Sierra trailing Sacramento City by 13 points and put whatever faith he had left in 6-foot-5 freshman Tanner Mathias. The Bear River High School product made Tisdel a believer by throwing for 271 yards and five touchdowns in the second half as Sierra evened its record at 1-1 with a convincing 45-16 victory. “After watching our offense for a game and a half,” Tisdel said, “I wanted to try something different.” The Wolverines defense did its part in the final 30 minutes by shutting out the Panthers, whose offense generated three field goals in the first half. Sacramento City’s one touchdown was a gift. Robert Virgil intercepted a Martinez pass and dashed 52 yards to give Sacramento City a 16-3 lead with 6:18 remaining in the first half. The interception was Martinez’s sixth in just two games. That was enough for Tisdel. And that was just the beginning for Mathias. Sierra received the second-half kickoff, and Mathias found Taylor Schablaske for a 32-yard touchdown. The Wolverines took the lead at 17-16 on their next possession when Mathias fired a 12-yard touchdown strike to Devin Hartley. Defensive end Ryan Jones’ interception gave the ball right back to Sierra, and Mathias tossed a 35-yard scoring pass to Schablaske. The two connected again with 1:37 left in the third quarter, with Schablaske turning a pass from Mathias into an 84-yard touchdown. Schablaske finished with 10 receptions for 241 yards. Freshman Zack Graves was a workhorse in his first start at running back with 35 carries for 123 yards. The 2009 Whitney High School graduate also caught a 42-yard touchdown pass from Mathias with 10:50 left in the game. The defense produced Sierra’s final touchdown on a 37-yard fumble return by Chris Romero with 3:39 left.