The Huskies defense has been Sutter’s go-to all season long and in Saturday night’s section title game nothing changed. Other than one rushing score in the third quarter for the Bobcats, Sutter was able to shut down Paradise and Tyler Harrison en route to a 20-7 victory, capturing the 2019 Northern Section Division III title.
With just under 4:30 left in regulation, Paradise found itself down two possessions. The Bobcats managed to set themselves up inside Sutter territory at the 40-yard line. However, Mario Ayotte and company weren’t going to let up easy.
“We knew if we could get a stop and put the ball back into our offense’s hands it would greatly help our chances of coming out on top,” Ayotte said.
Sure enough, on 4th down and 2 to go, the Huskies defense swarmed through the Paradise offensive line stopping the runner in the back field to turn the ball over on downs – giving Sutter possession with just over four minutes to go.
With a heavy dose of Cory McIntyre, Daniel Cummings and Colton Dillabo the Huskies converted a few first downs and iced the clock until it struck zero and read: Sutter 20, Paradise 7.
“I was really focused on us picking up those first downs. In the back of my head I was getting a little excited because we were so close. But we remained focused and ultimately that won us the game,” Sutter head coach Ryan Reynolds said.
The first quarter proved to be a case of each team feeling out the other, as both defenses made key tackles.
In the waning moments of the first quarter with both teams still scoreless, the Bobcats were able to string together a drive that included a fourth and goal opportunity from the 6-yard line. Once Paradise quarterback Danny Bettencourt rolled out to try and find an open receiver, Sutter linebacker Alex Bryan swooped in to snag an interception and keep the Bobcats from scoring.
Putting together an impressive drive full of long rushes to the outside, the Huskies were able to put the game’s first points on the board when Cummings dashed to the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown. Sutter now led 7-0 with 6:06 to go in the first half.
“We knew their defense was going to try and stop us to the outside but that didn’t phase our backs and o-line one bit, they were able to get some key blocks and create space,” Reynolds said.
The Huskies would keep their lead heading into halftime.
After revving the opening kickoff to start the third quarter, Paradise was halted by the Sutter defense who immediately forced a three and out taking possession back for their offense.
On the ensuing drive, Sutter quarterback Landon Cooper would find McIntyre on a cross route over the middle for a 31-yard touchdown reception to put the Huskies ahead 14-0 with 9:51 left in the third quarter.
Paradise – down two possessions – knew it had to put together a drive. Harrison started to find some holes, advancing the ball through what had otherwise been a very tough Huskies defensive line.
Faced with a third and goal from the 4-yard line, Harrison broke to the edge and dove for the pylon to put Paradise on the board. Sutter still lead 14-7 with 4:28 left in the third quarter.
Down by just one score, Bettencourt looked to put a drive together for the Bobcats in a crucial situation to start the fourth quarter. The senior passer rolled out to the right and tried to find an open receiver, but Huskies corner, Alec Bell jumped the route for an interception.
The late-game pick would set up a 56-yard rushing touchdown by McIntyre to put the Huskies up two scores, 20-7 with just over nine minutes left in regulation.
“Everyone on this team played their hearts out tonight, from the players on special teams to the guys we’ve called on all season, to the coaches who do a lot of work behind the scenes. I couldn’t be more proud of this program,” Reynolds said.
McIntyre finished the night with 120 rushing yards, while Cummings was close behind him with 109 yards on the ground.
Sutter (12-1) will now await to hear about its NorCal Bowl opponent which will be announced some time this afternoon.