Sierra football stunned by American River

By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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ROCKLIN — Sierra College has grown accustomed to rebounding quickly from its rare losses on the football field in recent years. The Wolverines stumbled in their second straight game for the first time in four years Saturday, committing three costly turnovers and failing to contain the American River offense in a 45-34 loss at Homer “Buzz” Ostrom Stadium. Quarterback Jared Gavard completed 26-of-36 passes for 383 yards and three touchdowns and the Beavers (3-1) pounded the ball up the middle for 153 yards on the ground. ARC, the last team to hand Sierra consecutive losses with help from Feather River in 2005, avenged defeats of 41-7 last season and 47-7 in 2007. The Beavers, who came into the day ranked 11th in Northern California, did not turn the ball over while capitalizing on three big Sierra miscues. “We couldn’t stop anybody consistently enough to win,” said Sierra head coach Jeff Tisdel. “We had some errant plays. Turnovers are obviously a part of the game you have to neutralize in order to win. They didn’t turn the ball over and they were the better team today, quite frankly.” The Beavers scored their first touchdown on a fumble return in the opening quarter, when Houston Roots bobbled an ARC punt and Beavers safety Jaron Jones returned it 38 yards to cut Sierra’s lead to 14-7. “That changed the momentum of the whole first half,” Tisdel said. “If we hold it right there, we would have had the ball at midfield, up 14-0.” The Wolverines (2-2), who entered the game ranked fifth in NorCal after a tough defeat at City College of San Francisco last weekend, took a 21-7 lead on C.J. Woodbury’s 2-yard dive in the first quarter. The Beavers scored the next 24 points and didn’t surrender the advantage. ARC turned an interception at midfield into seven points in the second quarter and recovered another fumble that led to a touchdown midway through the third. “They played tight on us, but when you score 35 points you should still have an opportunity to win the game,” Tisdel said. “Today we self-destructed with the turnovers and we couldn’t stop anybody consistently on defense. You can’t turn the ball over. It kills you.” Sierra quarterback Jeff Nelson completed 26-of-43 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns — two to Colfax graduate Jeff Divine and one each to fellow ex-Falcon Justin Chastain and Granite Bay alum Brandon Michalkiewicz. The Wolverines host College of San Mateo next Saturday in their final tune-up before beginning defense of their Valley Conference title against San Joaquin Delta in Stockton on Oct. 17.