Shafter responded nicely after a special teams disaster on the opening kickoff of its football game against Highland on Friday.
The Generals weren’t as lucky on the next three.
Three punting miscues around the goal line helped put Shafter in a double-digit hole early, as the Scots earned a 22-17 win in Week 2 of the high school football season.
Nicholas Salas started things off with a bang, returning the opening kickoff 62 yards all the way to the Generals' 8, but the Scots' offense was turned away on a goal line stand.
But after forcing a three-and-out, Highland also started its next drive in a first-to-goal situation, as a Shafter fumbled snap on a punt gave the Scots the ball on the Generals' 2 yard line. Three plays later, Kesav Patel punched the ball in from 1 yard out.
After a 55-yard AJ Cleveland to Jalen Hudgins touchdown pass made it 14-0, Highland again made a play on special teams, blocking a punt in the end zone for a safety.
With the score 16-3 in the third quarter, a snap went over the Shafter punter’s head and rolled dead at the Generals' 5. Three plays later, Elijah Brown was in the end zone on a 9-yard touchdown run.
“Us as coaches have to figure out a better way of either teaching better or coming up with something different, because we came out and (several) miscues on special teams, miscues on offense,” Shafter coach Jerald Pierucci said. “That’s the result, a 22-17 game that our defense played really, really well.”
Shafter, which held Highland to just 270 yards of offense, did make a game of it in the fourth quarter. Nelson Hernandez scampered for a 25-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth, then Sebastian Montgomery scored on a 39-yard catch and run to make it a five-point game with just over three minutes to play.
But a Scots run game that had been stifled since the first quarter found a rhythm on the last two drives, converting two first downs to run out the clock and survive the comeback attempt.
“We played very inconsistent. We put ourselves in a tough situation at the end of the game,” coach Mike Gutierrez said. “But our guys did a great job of fighting and just kind of keeping their composure, bending but not breaking and allowing us to get that victory at the very end.
“We’re happy for our guys. They’re playing well when it matters, but we also do need to clean a lot of stuff up. We want to make sure we’re better going forward.”
Highland 22, Shafter 17
Highland 16 0 6 0 — 22
Shafter 0 0 3 14 — 17
H - Vidal 1 run (Robles kick)
H - Cleveland 55 pass to Hudgins (Robles kick)
H - Blocked punt in end zone for a safety
S - Hernandez 42 field goal
H - Brown 9 run (kick failed)
S - Hernandez 25 run (Hernandez kick)
S - Dozhier 39 pass to Montgomery (Hernandez kick)
RUSHING — H: Vidal 16-64, Salas 6-20, Rountree 4-39, Brown 3-11, Cleveland 10-(negative 7). S: Dozhier 16-27, Hernandez 13-8, Fernandez 2-7
PASSING — H: Cleveland 13-24-1-143. S: Dozhier 16-23-0-223
RECEIVING — H: Hudgins 1-55, Jackson 4-38, Muhammad 3-27, Salas 3-33, Vidal 1 (negative 5), Cleveland 1-(negative 4). S: Lindsey 6-100, Chacon 2-48, Sanchez 3-41, Montgomery 1-39, Lucero 1-15.
W-L: H 2-0. S 1-1.