COLFAX — Sierra’s season came down to the final play of its Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV opener Friday at Colfax.
The ball was in the hands of senior slinger Jake Pruitt with the Timberwolves on the Colfax 10-yard line with 4 seconds left.
Pruitt wasn’t able to complete his 40th pass attempt of the night, which sparked a noisy celebration and propelled Colfax into into next week’s quarterfinals after a thrilling 42-37 victory.
“The second half was quite a game,” Sierra’s ninth-year head coach Jeff Harbison said. “We came up a little bit short. Colfax is a good football team. Coach (Tony) Martello does it right on the offensive side of the ball, and it was a shootout tonight.”
Sierra (7-4) took a lead in the fourth quarter twice. The last time was after a 20-yard Josh Gonzalez field goal put Sierra ahead 37-35 with 4:01 left.
Colfax (9-2) answered with an 80-yard drive that was capped by an 8-yard run from Tim Rawlins (21 carries, 142 yards, 3 TDs) that finished the scoring with 1:09 remaining. The banged-up Rawlins limped while on his way to the end zone.
Sierra didn’t call it quits and responded right back like it had all game.
“Our offense did their job tonight,” Harbison added. “When we score 37 points, we expect to win.”
Sierra had its chance, too.
The T’Wolves were put in scoring position after a deep 48-yard pass from Pruitt to Hunter Johnson over the middle. Johnson finished with seven catches for 154 yards and three touchdowns.
Pruitt then went to his other favorite receiver of the night, Lucas Widmer (7 catches, 154 yards, 2 TDs), for an 11-yard gain that put Sierra in striking distance.
Pruitt missed on his last two opportunities to the end zone, ending a stellar prep career.
Colfax will make the trip down to Modesto to face the defending small school state champion Central Catholic (10-1) next Friday.
“We need to play out of our minds in order to be in the game next week,” Martello said. “Everybody in the section knows that Central Catholic is off the charts.”
Sierra and Colfax were tied at 7-7 at the end of the first quarter and the game was knotted at 14 apiece heading into the half.
The T’Wolves and Falcons traded touchdowns in the third quarter and were tied at 21 after Pruitt found Widmer for a 19-yard strike. Rawlins gave Colfax a 28-21 advantage on the next possession, which was the third touchdown scored in less than five minutes.
Sierra senior Reid Maestas (16 carries, 77 yards) recovered a fumble in the second half and the T’Wolves’ defense picked off Colfax quarterback Michael Wilson (20 of 34, 396 yards, 4 TDs) twice. Bryson Sanders had an interception in the first half and Devin Nunez had one in the fourth quarter that turned the tables and shifted momentum to Sierra.
Nunez’s pick helped set up Sierra’s ensuing drive that was capped by a Pruitt-to-Johnson 20-yard score to make it 34-28. Colfax scored on their next two possessions after turning the ball over for a third time to start the fourth frame.
“That’s how it is,” Harbison concluded. “Sixteen teams went into the Division IV playoffs and 15 of them we’re going to lose. Unfortunately, we were one of those 15.”