Bear Cubs Reign Supreme Over Battle In The Trenches
by Dale Watkins
A fierce rainfall had invaded Bailey Field Saturday afternoon where a multitude of puddles and mud emerged on the tattered gridiron, but Mother Nature could not deny the Bear Cubs from staying undefeated, pitching a shutout of the Contra Costa Comets, 34-0.
Sloppy, messy, and miserable were the playing conditions to say the least; the game itself the epitome of the age-old cliché, “the show must go on.” Numerous players would stumble, slip, slide, and struggle to hold onto and throw the ball all night. Nonetheless, Andros Pedroza would kick off Bay 8 Conference play by knocking a 32-yard field goal through the uprights to give SRJC an early 3-0 lead.
Quarterback Mitch Hood then marched the offense 67 yards down the field in a three-minute span, then faked the handoff to Jay Ferguson and kept it himself, bursting into the endzone from five yards out. Pedroza tacked on another field goal from 23 yards, making the score 13-0 Santa Rosa with 8:34 remaining in the 2nd quarter.
After punter Dalton Mullins pinned Contra Costa deep inside their own 5-yard line, Comets QB Cameron Burston reared back to throw. However, the ball errantly slipped out of his hand, hurling directly sideways and landing behind the endzone line. It was declared a lateral and a loose ball, so Bearcub linebacker Andrew Togiailua alertly sprinted and launched himself onto the football; a fumble recovery giving Santa Rosa a 20-0 advantage going into the locker room.
The rain began to let up at halftime as a beautiful red post-storm sunset appeared in the background. Mitch Hood would then throw a strike to Bet Putman across the middle, dashing 30 yards upfield and in for the score, practically unscathed despite the effort of two Comet tacklers. Although the Contra Costa put together an impressive drive and were threatening near the goal-line, Burston dropped the snap while Jaise Griffey penetrated and immediately fell on the ball, giving possession right back to the Bearcubs. It was Contra Costa’s fourth turnover of the game, and none more demoralizing than that one.
Beginning at their own six-yard line, Kerr Johnson Jr. would catch a short pass from Hood, make a cut, receive a few blocks, and accelerate 94 yards past several Comet defenders and to the house for yet another SRJC touchdown. The visiting Comets were truly outmatched and overpowered in just about every aspect of the game.
Mitch Hood finished with a whopping 325 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Ja’Narrick James notched 92 yards on the ground on 10 carries, while Kerr Johnson and Ben Putman manned receiving duties, combining for 223 yards on only six catches. A frustrated Comet team could only rally 53 yards of total offense all night, and failed to convert on all 15 of their 3rd downs. Semaj Mitchell would lead his squad with 39 receiving yards on three catches.
Santa Rosa remains perfect at 6-0, and enjoys their standing as the #1 ranked team in Northern California. Head coach Lenny Wagner will now ready his Bearcubs for a huge road test next week when they take on San Francisco City College.
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