Football team must win its last two games to make playoffs

Leanne Cave

If the Bakersfield College Renegades hope to play in a postseason bowl, they will have to beat their last two opponents on the regular season schedule, College of the Canyons and Ventura College.

The Renegades are 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the Western State Conference North Division.

“I compiled all the scores of the teams within the conference,” said Jan Stuebbe, BC athletic director. “The bottom line is this. We are currently rated No. 8 in the Commission on Athletics Southern California coach’s poll and only have two losses. We need to win out to stay ahead of the teams with three losses.

“The top eight teams in the final COA coaches poll at the end of the regular season will go to the state playoffs, while the top 12 will play in bowl games. If we win out we will probably qualify with a seven or eight rating for postseason play. What we were hoping for was a playoff game in the Golden Empire Bowl.”

The first opponent, College of the Canyons, is unbeaten and currently ranked No. 2 in Southern California, according to the California Community Colleges Football poll.

The game will take place at Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“This is our last hope to make the playoffs,” said BC quarterback Thomas Peregrin. “We’re excited to get them at home. Canyons is a really good team, and they have really been smacking some good teams that we have played.”

In order for BC to beat highly regarded College of the Canyons, the ‘Gades probably will have to score more than eight points and defend their goal, something they didn’t do in a 17-8 loss to Los Angeles Pierce on Oct. 30.

“The Canyons game is going to be tough, and we are definitely going to have to play our best game, we still haven’t played our best game,” said BC linebacker Chris Shipp.

“We have to come out with some firepower, play all four quarters and get it done.”

It looked as though the ‘Gades had that defensive firepower in the first quarter against the Pierce Brahmas, when BC defensive lineman Ismail Abdunafi sacked Pierce quarterback Thomas Herringshaw in the end zone for a safety and BC took an early 2-0 lead.

But after a 40-yard field goal by kicker Bryan Sullivan late in the first quarter gave BC a 5-0 lead, things started to unravel for the ‘Gades.

“We came out ready to play,” Peregrin said, “but things started to go wrong. We had turnovers, and we never got it going on offense. You have to give Pierce credit. They’re a good team, and they weren’t going to lie down just because of our (6-1) record. They had nothing to lose and everything to gain, and they stuck it to us.”

This was especially true in the second half as the Brahmas played stellar defense, forcing the ‘Gades to turn over the ball on key drives that determined the outcome of the game.

One of those turnovers occurred early in the third quarter when Peregrin was sacked and fumbled the ball, giving the Brahmas good field position at the BC 18-yard line.

Pierce took advantage of the short field as they scored the first touchdown of the game for either team on a 10-yard run by tailback Perry Wilson, the extra point was good by kicker Greg Fullerton and Pierce led for the first time 7-5.

And things would only get worse for the ‘Gades offensively.

On the next offensive series, fullback Joel Venegas fumbled the ball giving the Brahmas good field position again at the BC 29-yard line.

It looked as though Pierce was about to score again when BC defensive back Devin Patterson intercepted a tipped pass and returned the ball to the Pierce 12, setting up an opportunity for BC to regain the lead.

But once again, the BC offense would be denied as it could only produce an 8-yard gain to the 4 yard line before Peregrin’s pass was intercepted in the end zone, shifting momentum back to the Brahmas.

In the fourth quarter, Pierce didn’t waste any time putting the winning points on the board.

On a well-executed 72-yard swing pass play from quarterback Thomas Herringshaw to receiver Ramon Perry, the Brahmas scored their second touchdown and Fullerton added the extra point to go ahead 14-5.

“We underestimated them,” said BC strong safety Kenneth Atkins. “They came to play. Coach Chudy told us all week they were capable of making the plays to beat us, and they did.”

The stingy Pierce defense held BC to a total of 56 yards and forced BC to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Sullivan after the ‘Gades had moved the ball to the Pierce 6-yard line.

The field goal closed the gap to 14-8. The Brahmas made sure there would be no comeback as they moved into field goal range with 2:09 left. Fullerton nailed a 30-yard kick, securing the 17-8 victory for the Brahmas.

“We didn’t execute on offense,” said BC running back Thomas Stancil.

“The defense spent too much time on the field. We have to execute our plays on offense to beat Canyons.”