Ball bounces Sierra's way again in overtime win

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Jeff Tisdel doesn’t teach history at Sierra College, but the veteran football coach knows it can repeat itself. The Wolverines learned that Saturday afternoon in Rocklin. Sierra won in overtime for the second consecutive week by capitalizing on a fumble. And this time, the offense never took the field in the extra period. Feather River fumbled on its first possession in overtime when quarterback Tyler Pine’s option pitch went awry. Sierra linebacker Benjamin Gray retrieved the ball near the 20-yard line and took off. By the time Gray reached the end zone, his teammates were going berserk. The 27-21 victory moved the Wolverines above .500 for the first time this season as they enter Valley Conference play. Sierra (3-2) beat American River 40-34 last week in Sacramento when the defense forced a fumble in overtime and the offense scored on its first possession. Gray gave the offense a break Saturday. “It was so instinct,” said Gray, a sophomore from Wheatland High School. “I grabbed the ball and was gone.” The victory came at a painful price for the Wolverines, however. Freshman running back Zack Graves was knocked out in the first half with what Tisdel called a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. The loss of the 2009 Whitney High School graduate derailed the offense, which scored twice in the first quarter as Sierra built a 14-0 lead. Tisdel also blamed his offensive line for the Wolverines’ inability to sustain drives. Feather River rallied with two touchdowns in the second quarter to tie the score at halftime. The Golden Eagles took the lead on their first possession of the third quarter when Reggie Powers broke loose for a 55-yard touchdown run. The Wolverines answered five minutes later. Sierra took advantage of a 17-yard punt by Feather River and mounted a 39-yard drive for the tying touchdown. Quarterback Tanner Mathias tossed a 3-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Devin Hartley. Feather River had an opportunity to regain the lead with 8:49 to play, but Francisco Hernandez’s field-goal attempt from 32 yards was blocked. The Wolverines settled the score on special teams after the Golden Eagles blocked a 31-yard attempt by Joseph O’Gorman in the third quarter. “It was a roller-coaster game,” Tisdel said. “We hung in there and made the play at the end.”