Jacks fall short of winning last home game ever
The Humboldt State Lumberjacks lost the overtime coin flip and started with the ball, with pressure to make it to the end zone. The offense stalled, and third string senior quarterback Brenden Davis was flagged for intentional grounding. The 15-yard penalty and loss of down forced senior kicker Jose “Pepe” Morales to attempt a 37-yard-kick. He missed the crucial overtime kick.
Possession flipped and Azusa Pacific ran eight plays for 29 yards setting up their kicker Jacob Hall for the game-winning 13-yard field goal.
Quarterback Brenden Davis finished with 68 yards and completed 60 percent of his passes. Three quarterbacks handled snaps after starter Joey Sweeney left the game with a potential head injury.
“Senior year, last game at the Redwood Bowl, I got an opportunity and I was ready,” Davis said. “We didn’t get the win. Mistakes were made but the effort was there on every play and I believe we closed this thing out right.”
The loss pushed the lumberjacks to 1-8 overall and 1-6 in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play.
The opening drive was quickly halted when Azusa Pacific intercepted Sweeney’s pass down the sideline. Azusa led a 10 play, 43-yard march into the end zone. The four minute drive was capped off by a three-yard run by Azusa running back Aaron Baltazar.
The Jacks were shut out in the first quarter but came alive in the second, finding the end zone twice. Head coach Damaro Wheeler decided to go for it on 4th and goal, trusting the offense.
Quarterback Sweeney read the defense and handed the ball off to senior running back Tyree Marzetta who jumped into the end zone. The Jacks first touchdown drive lasted 17 plays with an exciting fourth down finish. Marzetta carried the ball a season-high 24 times and has had four touchdowns in the last three games.
“When there was anything available in the run game I tried to do my part and contribute,” Marzetta said. “Shoutout to our offense, the offensive line, receivers, and our third string quarterback Brenden Davis. His back was against the wall and he didn’t fold.”
Sweeney was thrown to the turf by two Azusa Pacific defenders in the second quarter on a 3rd down play and left with an apparent head injury. Second string quarterback Andrew Tingstad replaced Sweeney and found the end zone from 8 eight yards out on a designed quarterback keep with 45 seconds left in the half.
Tingstad was also injured on a two-yard run play in the third quarter and did not return to the field.
Coach Wheeler thought the injuries were unfortunate but believed in the preparation of the team through practices and film, especially for his quarterbacks.
“Next man up,” Wheeler said. “He [Brenden Davis] wasn’t nervous and the moment wasn’t too big for him, [going forward] we have to game plan for him.”
The second half was all defense as both teams did not allow the other to run into the end zone. The Jacks defense was led by linebacker Demetrick Watts, who recorded a team-high 13 tackles. On a fourth down play with 6:37 left, Watts laid a hit on the Azusa Pacific running back and stopped their drive, giving the ball back to Humboldt’s offense.
Two other linebackers, Moses Finau and Connor Cox, both dished out big hits and brought down Azusa Pacific’s quarterback Tyrone Williams Jr. The play of the day was made in the secondary, when redshirt sophomore safety Adam Herrera intercepted WIlliams Jr. and took it back 32 yards into Azusa’s territory to give the Jacks a shot to win..
“I listened to coach,” Herrera said. “He said if the dig comes, to look for the post and the quarterback threw it straight to me. I was taking it to the crib and nowhere but the crib. I wanted to hit that open field.”
The Jacks didn’t come away with a victory but the fans cheered and gave a standing ovation to HSU’s last football team. After the game, quarterback Brenden Davis and running back Tyree Marzetta talked about how much the team meant to them and how honored they felt to have a community that never failed to come out and support.
“It’s a real home field advantage out here, we couldn’t ask for a better fan base,” Davis said.
“It’s emotional for me. I’ve never been a part of a team like this. I’m grateful to be a Lumberjack,” Marzetta said. “It’s sad it’s over because I love this place and I appreciate Humboldt for all it is.”
You have passed the torch to Azusa Pacific with this defeat. They are now California’s Division II team. #RESPECT.