A long night led to a difficult conclusion for the Diablo Valley College football team.
Despite a stellar effort from state-leading receiver CJ Cornwell, the injury-plagued Vikings dropped another heartbreaker, 48-42 in three overtimes against College of the Siskiyous of Weed on Friday at Viking Stadium.
Eagles star Lashone Garnett of Miami scored on a 14-yard run to decide the grueling game, after the Vikings were stopped on their series. Both teams began from the 25-yard line each time in overtime.
Cornwell, a sophomore out of California High, had 17 receptions and three touchdowns, but the Vikings left the field disappointed.
"It just comes down to really who wants it more and who cares more and how we're executing," Cornwell said. "We've just got to execute better in the fourth quarter."
Missed opportunities on special teams, injuries and turnovers all factored into the outcome. The Vikings led 20-0 after a 49-yard touchdown run by Freedom graduate D'Amora Cooper early in the second half, spurred by a clear-out block from Jueit Davis (Vallejo) on the left edge, but Siskiyous scored 28 unanswered points to create a tension-filled fourth quarter and overtime.
The previous week, the Vikings (2-2) saw Modesto rally from an 18-point deficit to take a 35-34 win.
"We've got to pick it up," Cornwell said. "It's on us. We're losing these games. We're up by 20 and we've just got stay in the lead and finish games."
Vikings coach Mike Darr had a long talk on the field with his team after the game.
"Two weeks in a row we've had execution problems," Darr said. "In the second half they hurt us. We lost leads twice, and that can't happen. That's what we talked about, is execution. There's no room for error, and we're running out of guys."
How bad is the injury situation? Darr said he was missing 13 players entering the game, and the decimated offensive line took another injury hit. The Vikings were forced to play the entire fourth quarter with three defensive linemen and a running back playing on the offensive line.
"You get into the third overtime, and it showed itself on some of the field goals," Darr said of the revamped O-line. "We’ve got guys in there that haven't been in there."
There were some positives for the Vikings. Safety Kyle Trego (Liberty) continued to shine as a true freshman, making play after play. Defensive linemen Chris Mulumba and Franklin Uesi (College Park), who had a fumble recovery in the first quarter, and linebacker Steven O'Brien (College Park) also had stout efforts. But the unit was without its top lineman, Marc Anthony Hor, who suffered an injury against Modesto.
Cornwell tap-danced near the sideline on a two-point reception from quarterback Drew Anderson (Miramonte) to tie the game 28-28 with 11:01 left in the fourth quarter. The two-point play followed a clutch 4-yard touchdown catch by Nick West (Liberty).
But the Eagles retook the lead 35-28 on a 10-yard run by Garnett. DVC tied it when Anderson rolled to his right and completed a 5-yard pass to West, followed by a Brandon Brown (California) extra point with 1:10 left to force overtime.
In the first overtime, Anderson made a strong throw to a leaping Cornwell on a 19-yard touchdown, but the Eagles answered with a 1-yard touchdown run by Hamilton Mateski, tying it 42-42.
Neither team scored in the second overtime, but DVC came close. After stopping COS on a leaping interception in the end zone by JR Martin (Dublin), Cooper gashed the Eagles' defense on back-to-back carries for 21 total yards to the 4-yard line. Anderson then positioned the ball in the center of field on a 6-yard loss, but the Eagles blocked a potential game-winning 27-yard field goal attempt by Brown, just getting a piece of the ball.
The Vikings led 13-0 at halftime after two touchdown passes by Anderson on similar plays to the gutsy Cornwell. In the second quarter, Anderson fired a 25-yard TD pass to Cornwell on a well-executed post pattern. Then Anderson, taking a big hit on the throw, fired a 39-yard touchdown strike to Cornwell, who absorbed a heavy blow in the end zone and held on to the ball late in the half.
In just his fourth game as a college quarterback, Anderson, who ranks among the state leaders in passing yards and touchdown passes, had five touchdown passes. But he was intercepted four times and lost possession on a fumble.
-- Matt Schwab