By Josh Bronson
Pilot staff writer
Four turnovers, including two inside the 10-yard line and one in overtime, cost the Siskiyou Savages their first game of the year in a 20-14 loss to the Klamath County Crusaders Saturday night at Brookings-Harbor High School.
The Savages had their first scoring opportunity of the game early in the second quarter.
After a pair of fourth-down conversions, the first being an 18-yard pass completion from Tim Crochet to Chris White and the second a 1-yard run by Walter McClurg, the Savages found themselves with a first-and-goal at the 7-yard line.
However, on second down, the Savages fumbled the ball and the Crusaders' Will Bennett picked it up and ran it 37 yards before Crochet caught up with him and pulled him down.
But on the ensuing Crusader possession, Daniel Suban picked off a tipped pass to give the Savages the ball back.
The Savages took great field position again as Crochet found his big wide receiver, Brian Carnicello, for a 67-yard completion that brought the Savages down to the 6-yard line.
But yet again, the Savages coughed up the ball and gave the Crusaders another possession.
On defense, the Savages put pressure on the Crusader quarterback and had two tipped passes at the line of scrimmage, forcing the Crusaders into a short punt, giving the Savages excellent field position.
After running back Mike Zeck pounded his way for a first down, Crochet and White hooked up again for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
Brian Cormier converted the extra point and gave the Savages a 7-0 lead entering halftime.
The Crusaders tied up the game in the third quarter with a 5-yard touchdown run by Landyn Trammell.
On their next possession, Crochet found his favorite target, White, once again for a 38-yard completion, giving the Savages first-and-goal from the 9-yard line.
On second down, Zeck plowed his way through the defense and into the end zone for the Savages' second touchdown of the game.
Cormier's kick was good and the Savages held a 14-7 lead with only one minute left in the third quarter.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Crusaders made a drive deep into Savage territory, but Suban picked off his second pass of the day to preserve the Savage lead.
Although the defense came up with several big stops throughout the game, they weren't able to hold the Crusaders forever.
With 3:30 left in the game, quarterback Matt Miles broke away from a few Savage tacklers and made his way 38 yards into the end zone to tie the game at 14-14.
The Savages had one last chance to score, but Crochet was intercepted by George Liblin to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, each team gets a possession at the 25-yard line and an opportunity to score.
The Crusaders went for the end zone first, and Miles found Trammell in the far corner to take the 20-14 lead.
On the extra point attempt, Nick White and Suban got past the blockers and blocked the kick, giving the Savages a chance to win.
But on second down of the Savages' possession, Crochet had to scramble out of the pocket and threw an errant pass into the hands of a Crusader, ending the game with a 20-14 loss.
The Savages dominated on offense with a superior passing game and showed that they had the ability to effectively move the ball down the field, although critical turnovers often counteracted that ability.
The defense also showed that they could come up with crucial stops and got big games from Larry Munyon, John Toohey, Julian Lennen and Ryan Teal.
The two games for the Savages are away, with a game against the Columbia River Coyotes in The Dalles on Saturday, April 7, and against the Medford Warriors on Saturday, April 14.
The next home game for the Savages is on Saturday, April 21, against the Salem Monarchs at 6 p.m.