‘Gades rushing toward the postseason

Leanne Cave

The Bakersfield College Renegades will return to Memorial Stadium on Saturday where they will begin a three-game home stretch to determine whether they will play in the postseason.

BC is 6-1 overall, 3-1 in the Western State Conference North Division and ranked in the top 10 in the state. But the Renegades won’t be taking any of the last three opponents lightly.

“It’s that time of year,” said Jan Stuebbe, BC athletics director. “Every game can be a make or break game at this point. We’ve come from behind in five of the six games that we’ve won, so we’re looking to improve every game.

The ‘Gades next opponent, Pierce of Los Angeles, will bring a potent passing attack that will test the BC defensive secondary.

“Pierce has got some talent,” said Jeff Chudy, BC head coach. “They’ve got the fourth-rated passing game in the conference, so we can’t allow big play opportunities.”

That wasn’t a problem for BC against visiting Santa Barbara City College on Oct. 23. The Renegades won 28-3.

In the first quarter, the ‘Gades took advantage of their opportunities.

The first scoring drive began at the Vaquero 40-yard line after the BC defense stopped Santa Barbara inside the 15-yard line, forcing the Vaqueros to punt.

The offense didn’t waste any time, putting together an eight-play drive with fullback Joel Venegas scoring from 1 yard out. Bryan Sullivan kicked the extra point, and the ‘Gades led 7-0.

Things didn’t get any better for Santa Barbara on the ensuing drive as BC once again stopped the Vaqueros deep in their own territory, forcing a punt that only went 12 yards.

From the Santa Barbara 27-yard line, BC used a good mixture of the run with the pass, to move inside the 1. On the next play, Venegas ran for his second touchdown. Sullivan’s kick was good, and BC led 14-0.

The second quarter was defensive, as the only score allowed would be a 44-yard field goal by Santa Barbara kicker Ryan Gambucci. BC led 14-3 at halftime.

The third quarter was all Renegades as both the offense and defense took control. “We were in control on the line of scrimmage because of a big size differential,” Chudy said.

BC used that to its advantage by racking up 249 rushing yards with some solid running from tailback Rickey Herod.

Herod, who accounted for 148 yards on 23 carries, scored the third touchdown for the ‘Gades when he dashed into the end zone on a 34-yard option play, Sullivan nailed the extra point, and BC led 21-3.

The defense accounted for the final score late in the third quarter when strong safety Bryant Matthews picked off a Santa Barbara pass by quarterback Preston Maloney and raced 38 yards to score. Sullivan kicked the extra point for the 28-3 final margin.

“Our defense stepped up and made the plays when they had to,” Herod said. “We are gaining a lot of yardage. We should be putting more points on the board. We should be scoring at least 50.”

In the Homecoming game against Citrus College on Oct. 16, the ‘Gades could have used some of those 50 points as reassurance. They had to come back to win 17-14.

It looked as though the Owls were going to dash any hopes of a postseason for the ‘Gades as they took a 14-3 lead.

But BC, as it had done in its previous four games, drove the length of the field and pulled to within four, just before the half, when Herod scored on a 1-yard run and Sullivan kicked the extra point.

The halftime score was 14-10 in favor of Citrus.

But BC’s touchdown before the half seemed to switch momentum back to the home team as the ‘Gades came out fired up determined to get the Homecoming victory.

In the second half, Citrus managed only 16 yards in the second half, while BC earned enough yardage to score one more time.

Enter Herod.

The tailback, whose family traveled from Texas and Sacramento to watch him play, wouldn’t disappoint the crowd or his family on this night.

Herod rushed for 122 yards on 26 carries and scored the winning touchdown to preserve a Homecoming victory for the ‘Gades 17-14.

“My family traveling to watch me play, just gave me more energy and I played every down harder,” Herod said.