West Hills College Coalinga looked strong after its Bye Week, as the Falcon defense pitched a second-half shutout in Saturday's 28-14 NCFC American Division victory.
No. 2 Foothill (6-1) entered the game with Northern California's top scoring defense, allowing only 9.8 points per game. The No. 6 Falcons (3-2) was close to its 31-point scoring average, as the offense compiled 467 yards of total offense and overcame two turnovers.
After scoring 21 unanswered points, the Falcons won back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Freshman QB Myron Norfleet added to his state lead in rushing touchdowns with three (9 yds, 11, 4) against the Owls. It was the fourth time this season that Norfleet rushed for three scores - giving him 13 on the season after just five games.
Sophomore RB D'Andre Van Exel ran for a career-high 90 yards on 18 carries (5.0 avg) and a score, and freshmen WRs Isaiah Clark-Brown (5 rec, 87 yds) and Nick Williams (5 for 79) helped move the chains and dominate the second half. Freshman WR Taylor Johnson added two receptions for 52 yards, including a 39-yarder; and Eugene Wells had five grabs for 22 yards.
After a scoreless first quarter, both teams traded seven-play scoring drives in the second. Foothill took a 7-0 lead on a 3-yard run by Pookha Meleisea-Smith, and WHCC answered with Norfleet's first TD run of nine yards.
The Owls took a 14-7 lead into halftime, following Meleisea-Smith's 1-yard TD late in the second quarter.
The Falcons took the second-half kickoff and marched right down the field. They needed just three plays to tie the game, set-up by a 55-yard completion from Norfleet to Clark-Brown. Two plays later, Norfleet scrambled for an 11-yard score (14-14 with 13:37 in the 3rd).
WHCC scored the final two touchdowns on impressive 11-play drives. The first went 86 yards in 5:53, capped by Van Exel's 5-yard score - giving the Falcons a 21-14 lead with 1:13 left in the third quarter.
The final scoring drive went 57 yards in 5:07, as Norfleet's 4-yard TD run (Blake Hanggi PAT) gave the Falcons a commanding 28-14 lead with 4:47 remaining.
The Falcon defense - led by LB Josh Parks (9 tackles, 1 sack), DL Michael Lightsey (5 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack), and DB Asante Jones (5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 pass breakup) - held Foothill to 265 yards of offense and the Owls converted only 2-of-12 on third downs.
Saftey Doniaj Smelker added four tackles and a forced fumble, strip-and-recovery; and LB Michael Palmer recorded his second interception of the season. Sophomore DL Eric Powell finished with three tackles (2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 QB hit).
Norfleet passed for 177 yards (15-24, INT) and ran for 44. Sophomore QB J.T. Bradwell finished 7-for-9 passing for 86 yards and rushed for 27.
Both quarterbacks moved the offense with tempo, as the team converted on 7-of-14 on third downs. The running game (204 yards) also got 46 tough yards by Isaiah Bennett (7.7 ypc).
Foothill QB Steven Mueller completed 18-of-33 pass attempts for 212 yards and one interception. His top receiver was Andrew Cairns (6 for 94).
The Owls were led on defense by LB Blake Flovin, who reigstered a game-high 18 tackles (11 solo, 1 TFL) and an interception.
UP NEXT: WHCC will play at No. 4 Monterey Peninsula on Saturday (Oct. 21) at 6 p.m. Foothill will play at Redwoods in a 1 p.m. kickoff.