Renegades defeat Citrus to advance

Leanne Cave

The Bakersfield College Renegades advanced to the second round of the state playoffs by defeating the testy Citrus College Owls 36-12 in the third annual Golden Empire Bowl on Nov. 18.
“It was a great day for Bakersfield College and the community,” said Jan Stuebbe, BC athletic director. “It was a very festive environment for all the fans who attended.
It was also great for the ‘Gades to win the game.”
The ‘Gades (10-1) will play the Grossmont Griffins, also 10-1, on Saturday at Memorial Stadium at 4 p.m. BC is the No. 2 seed in the Southern California region while Grossmont is No. 3.
The Griffins, the top rated defensive team in the state, hope to slow down BC, one of the most explosive offensive teams in the state.
BC has won nine straight games since going down to defeat against the No. 1 ranked team in the Southern California region, Saddleback College, on Sept. 9.
With a young ‘Gades team playing championship caliber football, a rematch with the Gauchos, could produce a much different outcome.
“We are extremely pleased with the way the football team is playing, it gets tough at this level,” Stuebbe said. “We’ve got to take care of business against a very good Grossmont team.”
If BC wins the semifinal against Grossmont and Saddleback wins its semifinal against El Camino College, the regional championship game and rematch between the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the SoCal region will take place at Saddleback College on Dec 2. If El Camino beats Saddleback and BC wins, the SoCal regional championship game will be at Memorial Stadium.
The thing the Grossmont offense will find out when it faces BC is that the Griffins aren’t the only team in this region that has a powerful defense.
The ‘Gades are playing extremely tough, applying the pressure up front and creating timely turnovers which have enabled the BC offense to put a lot of points on the board. The stingy BC defense, meanwhile, has allowed only one touchdown in the last eight quarters against high-powered offenses.
Defensive pressure was once again responsible for turning around a sluggish first half performance into a rout for the ‘Gades against Citrus in the Golden Empire Bowl, as they created five turnovers, three in the second half, which set up scoring opportunities for BC.
Two of those turnovers were interceptions by defensive back Kenny Graham. Graham’s interceptions led to two touchdown runs of 3 and 8 yards by J.R. Rogers in the second quarter and the ‘Gades never looked back. Because of his game-changing performance, Graham was named defensive MVP of the game.
“The pressure up front by Daniel Calvin, Crispin Fernandez, Ron Jones, Aaron King, Daron Mackey and Curtis Cornelson caused the Citrus offense to force the ball,” Graham said. “I just made the reads and made the plays.”
Rogers also scored on a 45-yard run in the third quarter after Citrus return specialist Anthony Sutton fumbled the punt and Aaron King recovered for BC. The fumble recovery was one of two by the BC defense, the other recovered by inside linebacker Daron Mackey.
Rogers was named the Most Valuable Player of the Golden Empire Bowl. The explosive back had 20 carries for 132 yards and three touchdowns.
“We had a great performance by the O-line,” Rogers said. “They came out hard in the second half and opened it up for me to run.”
For the 2006 season, Rogers rushed for 1,039 total yards and 2,022 in his career while at BC.
Even though Rogers hopes to play at the next level, he is focused on winning a state championship at the community college level.
“My coaches will help me get to the next level, right now I’m focused on winning a state championship,” he said.
Also impressive for BC in the contest was Brandon Banks. Banks returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown and caught a key pass setting up a score for the ‘Gades.
The Owls took an early 3-0 lead on a 25-yard field goal by kicker Kirk Cabana and dipped into their bag of tricks throughout the contest, but they could only manage six points, the 25-yarder and a 39-yard field goal in the first half. The only other score the Owls could muster in the game was a 37-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Bryan Waggener to wide receiver Mark Castaneda late in the fourth quarter.
Citrus running back Leonard Mason was named offensive MVP of the contest as he amassed 158 yards on 19 carries.
Very uncharacteristic for BC was the kicking game as kicker Will Johnson missed two extra point attempts (one blocked) in the first half. Johnson, however, redeemed the missed conversions by nailing a 32-yard field goal late in the second quarter, giving BC a 15-6 halftime lead.
A 12-yard run by Patrick Patterson with 7:23 left in the fourth quarter capped the scoring for the ‘Gades in the first round state playoff bowl game.
BC earned the right to play in its second straight Golden Empire Bowl by traveling to Allan Hancock on Nov. 11 and defeating the tough Bulldogs 17-3 in Santa Maria.
The victory over Hancock captured the second straight Western State Conference North title for the ‘Gades. Hancock finished the season with a record of (7-3 5-2 WSC North).
BC was only able to put two touchdowns on the board in the rugged contest against the ‘Dogs, but both were of big play caliber.
In the second quarter, quarterback Cody Stone threw a 68-yard strike to wide receiver T.J. Lee and Johnson added the extra point. In the third quarter, Rogers scored on an 85-yard touchdown run and once again Johnson added the extra point conversion.
The only other scores of the battle were two field goals.
Even though the offense had impressive moments, the play of the ‘Gades defense once again had a great deal to do with the outcome of the game.
The highly touted Bulldog offense that had averaged almost 300 yards per game was held to 116 yards by the BC defense and shut out in the second half.