‘Gades to take on rival at homecoming

Leanne Cave

The Bakersfield College Renegades will add another page to the football history books when they host the Citrus College Owls in the traditional Homecoming game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

The game should be an exciting contest as both teams have balanced attacks and hope to defend identical records of 4-1.

“Bakersfield College is always very solid and very sound,” said Kevin Emerson, Citrus College head football coach.

“It has become a fun rivalry, and we are looking forward to playing them. We have a balanced attack offensively and on defense we just get after it.”

For BC, the game will be a character test as the ‘Gades will try to stop a Citrus three-game winning streak and rebound from a 22-17 loss (their first of the season) to Allan Hancock on Oct. 2.

“Maybe we needed the loss (to Hancock) to wake everybody up,” said BC defensive lineman Ismail Abdunafi.

“Everybody was kind of ahead of themselves, and we thought we had the game. They capitalized on a lot of our mistakes.”

Besides the need for an awakening, Abdunafi said Homecoming is an extra incentive for the ‘Gades to play a great game for their hometown fans and redeem the loss.

“It should be the best game of the season against a real solid team,” he said.

Tyler Saso, BC defensive lineman, echoed the sentiments.

“Homecoming is exciting because we play in front of a lot of alumni. It’s tradition, and we have a chance to show what our program is all about,” Saso said. “In the Hancock game, we gave up a lot of plays and made mistakes. This week is going show what kind of character we have.”

The ‘Gades looked as if they were going to dominate Hancock as they took the opening kickoff, drove the field and scored when running back Anthony Stewart raced in from 4 yards out.

BC scored again in the first quarter when Bryan Sullivan kicked a 25-yard field goal and the scoreboard read 10-0. In the second quarter, things would start to unravel for the ‘Gades.

Not only did BC have a touchdown called back because of a penalty, but an opportunity to score was fumbled away, shifting the momentum to Hancock.

“We jumped on Hancock 10-0,” said BC quarterback Thomas Peregrin. “When we get the momentum, we need to keep it rolling, we need to finish what we start. We can’t give the other team an opportunity to get the momentum and win the game.”

The third quarter was all Hancock as the Bulldogs put together their first impressive drive of the game and scored on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Blake Sartini to running back Walter Burnette. Trailing 10-7, Hancock scored again on a 58-yard drive for Hancock when freshman running back Anthony Melton sprinted 23 yards to the end zone for a 14-10 lead.

The ‘Gades took the lead 17-14 when Peregrin connected on a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jason Thomas. But the Bulldogs would not be denied as it took only two plays for Hancock to seal the deal. On the ensuing kickoff, the ball was returned to midfield.

On the next play, Sartini tossed a 50-yard touchdown bomb to Ryan Bugg, the 2-point conversion from Andrew Jones to Michael Slaughter was good and the final score read 22-17.

The Homecoming matchup promises to be another exciting contest as the ‘Gades will try to avenge a three-game losing streak to Citrus and remain in the running for a postseason berth. Game time is 7 p.m. Saturday.

“The loss to Hancock put us up against the wall,” said Jeff Chudy, BC head football coach. “We better be ready to play. We need to win this game if we want to accomplish what we have been working for since February.”