‘Gades lose first game 31-26

Leanne Cave

The Bakersfield College football team will take on Saddleback College in its season home opener at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Saddleback is currently ranked No.1 in the National Division of the Western State Conference and expected to repeat as a postseason bowl contender as it opened their season with a 21-14 victory over a good Allan Hancock College team that is consistently in contention for postseason play.

“Saddleback is a very talented team,” said BC head football coach Jeff Chudy. “They are the defending Southern California Region champions. They play the spread offense well, and they put a lot of pressure on you defensively.”

In order for the Renegades to be successful against Saddleback, they will need to execute the game plan more consistently and take advantage of opportunities presented, something they didn’t do in a 31-26 opening-season loss to Fullerton College on Sept. 4 in Fullerton.

In fact, it was kind of Murphy’s Law for the ‘Gades in the Fullerton game: anything that could go wrong, went wrong.

The game, originally scheduled for Saturday, had to be postponed until Sunday because of transportation difficulties and a brush fire in the Frazier Park area that shut down I-5 Saturday afternoon.

It looked as though it was business as usual on Sunday as the’Gades took the opening kickoff, drove the field and scored on a 34-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Thomas Peregrin to wideout Tajiddin Smith. The kick was good by Jose Martinez, and BC led 7-0. But Fullerton tied the score on a 3-yard pass form quarterback Casey Whieldon to Tim Merrill to tie the score, 7-7.

The second quarter was productive for the ‘Gades as Peregrin tossed a 35-yard touchdown to Tyrece Lee Jr., and Martinez nailed a 40-yard field goal.

From this point on, things seem to unravel for the BC defense as the Hornets romped for 354 yards on the ground. Fullerton running back Joe Chatman did most of the damage by rushing for 251yards on 34 carries and two touchdowns. He had 171yards by halftime. Not only did Chatman run wild on the ‘Gades, his touchdown runs of 26 and 24 yards in the second quarter put the Hornets up for good as they led 21-17 at halftime.

“Defensively, we blew away too many opportunities,” Chudy said. “We had too many penalties, poor tackling, basically we were just outplayed defensively.

“Offensively we could have executed better in key situations and, overall ,we just missed assignments and opportunities that could have won the game. But it wasn’t a final exam, it was a chapter quiz.”

Omar Hill, BC defensive back, echoed Chudy’s sentiments. “We had about five penalties too many, and we missed our reads and assignments,” Hill said.

BC fell five points short even though Peregrin passed for 449 yards and Smith caught 10 passes for 166 yards.

“I would rather throw for zero yards and win the game,” Peregrin said. “But we’re going to take this loss as a learning experience, take it into this week’s game against Saddleback and hopefully we’ll have a different outcome.

The third quarter provided the BC fans with something to cheer about as Martinez booted a 52-yard field goal to bring the ‘Gades within 21-20. Martinez was the highlight film of the evening as he kicked field goals of 40 and 52 yards, went 2-for-2 on extra points and put several kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

“Martinez was player of the game,” Chudy said. “He did an awesome job for us against Fullerton.”

The fourth quarter was more Fullerton than Bakersfield as the Hornets sealed the victory with a 25-yard field goal by kicker Mauricio Garcia, and Richard Amchir scored from 20 yards out making the score 31-20.

The ‘Gades added six points on a 21-yard pass from Peregrin to Smith with 2:36 left in the game and the final score read 31-26.

Saturday’s game against Saddleback marks BC’s home opener. It starts at 7 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.