College of the Redwoods receiver Zacharry Loveland finds some room during a kick return during Redwoods’ 21-18 loss to Los Medanos, Saturday afternoon at Community Stadium. (Andrew Butler — Times-Standard)
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College of the Redwoods watched a slim lead evaporate as Pacific 7 Conference counterpart Los Medanos scored two touchdowns within 15 seconds to start the fourth quarter, pulling away to beat Redwoods 21-18 Saturday afternoon at Community Stadium.

Redwoods led 11-8 to begin the fourth quarter. Los Medanos began the final frame with the ball after Redwoods center Dontae Mims sent a snap well above the head of quarterback Alex Adams, who was unable to track it down before a herd of Los Medanos defenders fell on the loose ball.

Los Medanos, offensively inept for much of the day, scored after quarterback Timothy Evitt found Z’andre Givens for a 25-yard touchdown to give his team it’s first lead of the day, 15-11

Los Medanos pooched the ensuing kick off to Redwoods up-man Ricky Muliufi who, after a short gain, fumbled the ball, giving Los Medanos the ball at the Redwoods 30 yard line. Evitt, on the first play of the drive, found TeAun-Tr’e Pierce for a 30 yard touchdown. Redwoods blocked the extra point try to keep the score at 21-11. Los Medanos scored once at the 14:18 mark in the fourth quarter and again 14 seconds later at the 14:04 mark.

“We just didn’t finish how we need to to win a game,” Redwoods head coach Frank Borba said. “We had some bad throws and bad turnovers which killed our drives and gave them scoring opportunities. This is a game we should have won.”

Redwoods took an 8-0 lead into the halftime break after putting forth its best defensive effort in a half of football all season. Redwoods defensive lineman Dakota Moore had three drive-ending sacks in the first half alone. The Redwoods secondary was also much improved for the majority of Saturday’s game. Big passing plays, a frequent thorn in the Corsairs side, were shut down for most of the day by Redwoods. Micha Fontenot-Cornely started at both wide receiver and defensive back for Redwoods on Saturday and had two tremendous plays. The first, an interception at midfield and the second, a forced fumble during Los Medanos’ following drive which was scooped up by Fatu Tuitasi and set up a what would be the only score by either team in the first half.

The lone first half score of the first half came after a bruising four-yard rushing touchdown by Redwoods running back Elijah Hicks with 41 seconds remaining in the half.

“I thought our defense played light out today,” Borba said.

Whatever momentum Redwoods had was quickly erased at the start of the third quarter when Givens returned the opening kickoff of the second half the distance to, after a successful two-point conversion, tie the game at 8-8.

Redwoods’ kicker Roberto Ortiz connected on a 30-yard field goal late in the third quarter to give his team an 11-8 advantage, which was quickly erased after Los Medanos opened the fourth quarter with a pair of touchdowns.

“We came into the day undermanned and I just told my guys to play physical and hard,” Los Medanos head coach Christopher Shipe said. “It was a good day of football, our defense played well.”

Redwoods made a go at a comeback in the later stages of the fourth quarter. Redwoods drove down to inside the 15 yard line of Los Medanos following its two-touchdown flurry but the drive ended after Adams made a poorly conceived throw across his body and into the arms of Givens at the goal line (yes, he played both ways), ending what was a crucial scoring opportunity for Redwoods with a turnover.

Los Medanos drained five minutes off the clock during the next drive before punting back to Redwoods. The home team, on the back of Hicks, drove down the field for a touchdown with five minutes remaining in the game after Hicks dived into the end zone for a two-yard rushing touchdown. The score narrowed Los Medanos’ lead to 21-18, but it would be the last time Redwoods would possess the ball on offense. Los Medanos, on fourth-and-10, went for it and Evitt found Dominic Range for the first down, sealing the win for Los Medanos. Evitt, injured a few weeks ago, did not start for Los Medanos on Saturday. Nikita Jegers made the start for Los Medanos but after a couple interceptions, one to Fontenot-Cornely and the other to Damian Natt, was subbed out in favor of Evitt at half time.

With Saturday’s loss Redwoods falls to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in the Pacifc 7. Los Medanos, with its first conference win of the season, improves to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in conference. Redwoods will hit the road next week for an away conference game in Los Altos against Foothill College, Saturday at 1 p.m.

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