With both an 85-yard kick return touchdown by William Reynolds and a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by Kimit Peters, the Hoopa Valley Warriors shutout the Ferndale Wildcats 32-0 in what was a pivotal Little 4 Conference game, Saturday afternoon at Coach Carlson Wildcat Field.
With Saturday’s win Hoopa improves to 3-1 in the Little 4 and 5-3 overall. At 3-1 in league, Hoopa remains tied with Arcata a top the Little 4 standings with two games remaining.
With Saturday’s loss Ferndale drops to 3-5 overall in 2018 and 2-2 in the Little 4.
“My coaching staff and my players put together a good game plan both offensively and defensively,” Hoopa head coach William Simms said, “And we executed.”
Hoopa started off strong with a couple of completed passes from quarterback John Smith and eventually a completed pass to Reynolds for a touchdown with six minutes left in the first quarter. Despite the numerous amount of offensive penalties by Hoopa, the defensive line was able to keep Ferndale’s rushing attack sequestered throughout the majority of the afternoon.
With less than five minutes left in the second quarter Hoopa took over on their own 28-yard line. Smith completed two passes to receiver Carlos Aguilar for a total of 13 yards just before Reynolds completed the series with a 15-yard rushing touchdown, giving Hoopa a 12-0 lead.
“We’re a good overall team,” Smith said. “As long as we play together we’re really good and that’s what we did.”
Ferndale’s defense stepped up just before the half with three sacks from Cody Collings, Kenton Chambers and Orion Benton. Benton also walked into the locker room at halftime with two tackles already under his belt. Both teams entered the break with Hoopa ahead 12-0.
Hoopa blew open the game to start the third quarter after Reynolds returned Ferndale’s opening kick for an 85-yard touchdown, giving Hoopa an 18-0 lead.
Just as Ferndale began to gain yardage on its ensuing possession with a run from quarterback Jenner Christiansen and a completed pass to tight end Kyler Becksted, Aguilar intercepted the ball at the 24-yard line ending what was a promising drive for Ferndale.
The Warriors drove across field and down to Ferndale’s one-yard line before receiving a personal foul penalty, backing them up to the 16. But that didn’t stop receiver Jasper Holster from scoring Hoopa’s fourth touchdown of the game on the very next play, off a nice pass from Smith. Hoopa converted its ensuing two-point try to extend its lead to 26-0.
Ferndale began its following drive with good field position after falling on a failed Warriors onside kick. During the drive, however, the Warriors inside linebacker Peters intercepted Christiansen’s pass for a touchdown with 1:40 left in the third quarter.
“I think we just lost our composure at times,” Ferndale head coach Clint McClurg said. “We have a choice to make and I know these young men. They’re a solid group and we’ll come together.”
Hoopa will stay on the road as it will face Arcata (3-1, 4-4) next Friday at the Redwood Bowl. Ferndale will remain at home next week as it will host McKinleyville (0-4, 2-6) on Saturday.