‘Gades face tough challenge

Leanne Cave

The Bakersfield College Renegades will travel to Ventura College Saturday with high hopes of rebounding from a disappointing 21-14 loss to the Moorpark Raiders at home Sept. 28. It will be a tough test as Ventura gave BC all it could handle last year.

“Ventura gave us fits last year at our place,” head coach Dallas Grider said. “They are always shooting for us. It will be a tough game on the road.”

So far Memorial Stadium has presented no home field advantage for the ‘Gades in 2002 as their only win was a narrow 28-21 come from behind victory on the road over West Hills in Coalinga. The ‘Gades’ record now stands at 1-2.

“They’re a pretty good bunch of guys. They play well together,” said Ventura head coach Terry Morris. “We expect a tough game. They have all the tradition in the world and a great coaching staff. We know they are struggling early but they still have a lot of tradition on their side and they’ll be ready to play.”

The loss to Moorpark was especially disappointing because BC played well enough offensively and defensively to win the game.

It was the inconsistent play of the special teams and mental errors that were costly for the ‘Gades.

“The offensive and defensive performance was a legitimate effort.” Grider said. “I was disappointed with the execution on special teams.”

Special team play, which is normally a strong point for BC, wasn’t on this night. The ‘Gades missed a 30-yard field goal. Greg Morris of Moorpark scampered 31 yards on a punt return to give the Raiders good field position inside the 20.

This set up the second score of the evening for Moorpark, giving the Raiders a commanding 14-0 lead. However the final blow came with 1:19 left in the game.

With Moorpark having a 21-14 lead and the ball, the BC defense stepped up and forced the Raiders to punt. This would have given the ‘Gades the ball and one last opportunity to tie the score.

But BC was flagged for roughing the punter, which is a 15-yard penalty and a Moorpark first down. The Raiders ran out the clock, preserving the 21-14 victory.

The BC offense showed some consistency as quarterback Nathan Baker, who replaced an injured George Valos, connected on eight of 15 passes for 115 yards.

“I’m glad to be starting for BC,” Baker said. “Against Ventura we can’t make the mental mistakes and we have to play a good overall football game.”

Josh Lopes provided a solid running game for the ‘Gades as he ran for 102 yards on 24 carries, scoring six of the 14 points. The play of quarterbacks Mario Fernandez and Justin Heimiller was encouraging as Heimiller came in and threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to LaRon Mitchell, giving BC its second touchdown of the game.

Saturday will be a test to see if the ‘Gades are getting better.

Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.