Hearbreaking loss to Canyons

Leanne Cave

It’s time for the Bakersfield College football team to take a midseason break as they will have a bye on Saturday. When the Renegades (3-2 overall, 2-1 in the Western State Conference) return to action Oct. 15, they will travel to Wilmington where they will face a good Los Angeles Harbor team. “Harbor has one of the top offenses in the state,” said BC head coach Jeff Chudy. “They do a lot of things to confuse you on defense. Hopefully, we will score some points and cut down on our mistakes.”
Unfortunately for the ‘Gades, too many mistakes and confusion were costly Oct. 1 as they found themselves one-point short of upsetting the No. 1 team in the state, College of the Canyons. The 24-23 victory over the ‘Gades made it 19 victories in a row for the methodical Cougars.
It became quite evident on Canyons’ first possession just how well their system works. On the first scoring drive, Canyons drove the field, mixing it up with the run and the pass. On some formations they would flood with four receivers to one side, daring the defense to pick one and cover. If you covered the receiver, the backside was open to run.
With 5:23 left in the first quarter, quarterback Marcel Marquez scored on a 3-yard run, kicker Jonathan Johnson’s extra point try was good and the unbeaten Cougars led 7-0. Marquez was perfect as he connected on all five passes on the 61-yard scoring drive.
“We would stop them on first and second down,” said BC defensive end Miguel Paramo. “But a couple of times, the offensive scheme got confusing and they scored.”
It didn’t take long for the ‘Gades to show Canyons they were capable of scoring, too. Early in the second quarter, quarterback Thomas Peregrin returned the favor as he scored from 7 yards out, reserve kicker Nathaniel Berk added the extra point and the score was tied 7-7.
“We needed to score and keep our defense off the field,” Peregrin said. “We played well enough to win. We just made mistakes that ended up costing us the game.”
Canyons once again marched down the field and took the lead with 9:51 left in the half when Johnson booted a 19-yard field goal to put the Cougars back on top 10-7. The ‘Gades blew a chance to score from the Cougar’s 18-yard line when running back Eric Velez threw up a halfback pass to would-be receiver Tajiddin Smith, and the pass was picked off by Canyon defensive back Ja’Vonte Holmes.
The next score of the half also belonged to Canyons. Marquez tossed a nice 29-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Terence Scott, Johnson kicked the extra point and Cougars led at halftime 17-7. The quarterback was pretty much on target in the first half as he completed 10-of-16 for 138 yards.
In the third quarter, the BC defense played well enough to win, as it did not allow Canyons’ potent offense to score. In fact, the only score in the third quarter was a beautifully thrown 28-yard pass from Peregrin to wide receiver Jonathan Nunez in which Nunez made a dazzling spin move around the defender and scored to cut the gap to 17-13. Berk missed the extra point.
The fourth quarter was exciting for the 3,978 fans. BC took its first lead of the game, 20-17, when running back J.R. Rogers scored from 7 yards out and Berk kicked the extra point. It appeared as if the ‘Gades might snap the Cougars’ 18-game winning streak when Berk nailed a 24-yard field goal with 4:46 left to play.
But on the ensuing kickoff, BC was called for a block in the back, giving the Cougars workable field position at their own 42-yard line. From there, Canyons’ methodical offense went to work, once again mixing the run with the pass. The Cougars sealed the victory when Marquez found wide receiver Billy Omahen on a 4-yard pass in the end zone for six points and Johnson added the game winning point. Final score 24-23. “We came up short,” Chudy said. “Turnovers hurt us. You can’t turn the ball over and expect to win.”