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Sierra doomed by second-half collapse
Sierra’s Jermaine Ruffin (23) and Nico Valencia gang up on Enochs running back Herbert Whitehurst in the first half of Friday’s season-opening contest at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium. - photo by HIME ROMERO
After the first 24 minutes of the 2010 season, Sierra High held a 25-14 lead heading into halftime.

The two-score lead proved to be anything but safe, as the Enochs Eagles reeled off 21 unanswered points to hand Sierra a 35-25 defeat.

The Timberwolves put together a seven-play drive, culminating with a 2-yard scoring plunge from Aaron Manuta 39 seconds into the second quarter. Sierra floundered on the point-after attempt, previewing the ugly reality of the team’s first four attempts.

Sierra continued in the right direction, taking advantage of an Enochs fumble on the ensuing snap and building a 12-0 lead with a speedy 10-yard burst from Harold Wright. Enochs began to press, going three-and-out after their first two passes of the contest.

Sierra’s next possession could have provided the finishing blow, but instead of extending its lead, Sierra quarterback Adrian Valencia’s (13-of-23, 112 yards, 2 TDs, 3INTs) screen pass attempt was picked off by defensive end Brandon Barboza. Enochs took advantage, turning a pass interference on fourth-and-20 from the Sierra 30 into its first points.

Herbert Whitehurst scampered in from two yards out chopping Sierra’s lead to 12-7.

Once again Sierra responded with a perfect 17-yard touchdown pass from Valencia to Ruben Lopez. The 18-7 lead lasted 63 seconds, as Enochs returned the favor with a 74-yard scoring drive – in three plays. Sierra’s resiliency was on display immediately following the score, using the majority of the 44.8 seconds remaining to add another touchdown.

Valencia tossed another perfect strike to the end zone, with senior Grant Widmer fighting through contact to haul in the 36-yard score. Sierra showed scoring was the least of its problems, but that comfort abandoned the Timberwolves over the game’s final two quarters.

“I think we came out a little flat for that second half,” Widmer said. “We came out with a good mentality to start the game, but we just couldn’t pull it together in the second half.

“We had a bad week of practice; we practiced like a 3-7 team.”

Even with the offense stagnant throughout the second half, Sierra failed to convert a first down and punted three times, the defensive unit could find no answer for Whitehurst. He rushed for 134 second-half yards on 16 carries, scoring a touchdown and posing the Timberwolves’ defensive unit with an unconquerable task.

“Defensively, we just didn’t play ball tonight,” Sierra head coach Jeff Harbison said. “A lot of missed assignments and a lot of them on simple things.
“Those were the things that came back and hurt us.”
Sierra will not be afforded any time to hang its helmets, traveling to Modesto to take on Davis Friday. The Timberwolves will try and get things squared away and back on track, but even returning to their first-half performance may not be enough.

“I absolutely did not feel comfortable when we walked off this field after the first half,” Harbison said. “I truly felt that if they would’ve continued to rush the football, that they could have had their way with us tonight.

“They were just more physical than us, and this is the result.”