Renegades keep playoff hopes alive with wins

Leanne Cave

Bakersfield College’s football team wasn’t in a cheerful mood after a close 27-24 victory at Moorpark College on Oct. 29.

“We’ve been frustrated all week,” BC quarterback Thomas Peregrin said. “We didn’t have good practices this week, and it showed on the field.”

While the offense struggled, the special teams and defense did their part to keep the ‘Gades in the game.

A good defensive stand by BC forced Moorpark to settle for a Felipe Macias 26-yard field goal that put the Raiders up 3-0.

On the ensuing kickoff, things got a bit exciting as BC scored its first six points of the game on a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by return specialist and defensive back Omar Hill. Martinez kicked the extra point, and the ‘Gades led 7-3.

“Omar and ‘Stew’ (Michael Stewart) stepped for us,” wide receiver Jonathan Nunez said. “Omar got the kickoff return that got us points on the board. And ‘Stew’ got the two picks one in the red zone (that kept Moorpark from scoring) and one at the end of the game (that stopped the Raiders from getting a tying field goal or a go ahead score).”

Moorpark took the lead again midway through the second quarter when running back Julius Killings scored from 11 yards out. Macias kicked the extra point and the score read 10-7.

With 1:28 left before the half, the Raider defense stopped the BC drive and BC was forced to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Martinez that would tie the score at 10.

The defensive efforts by both Moorpark and BC were a big factor in the outcome, especially on Moorpark’s next possession.

BC was able to break the tie and go in at the half ahead by seven thanks to the efforts of linebacker Curtis Cornelson.

Cornelson picked off a Moorpark pass and returned it just inside the Moorpark 10-yard line. With 38 seconds left in the half, Peregrin connected on a 5-yard pass to tight end Jeff Fielder, the kick was good by Martinez and the scoreboard read 17-10 BC.

“Cornelson plays well. He has good speed, which helps us at the linebacker position,” Chudy said.

The BC offense that had scored 49 and 47 points in the last two games, was held to 27 and had to earn every one of them.

This was due to the fact that the Moorpark defense was stellar in stopping the BC running game that had produced a lot of yardage in the last two games. But Peregrin was determined to get this win.

The next BC score was a beautifully thrown 41-yard touchdown strike to Tajiddin Smith. Martinez kicked the extra point and the ‘Gades were up 24-10.

But Moorpark fought back in the last 15 minutes, scoring twice on touchdown passes from quarterback Cam Merrill to wide receiver Tony Washington, the extra points were good and with 6:59 left in the game the score was tied 24-24. After Moorpark scored its 24th and final point, Tyrece Lee Jr. made one of the key plays of the game for BC.

On the ensuing kickoff, Lee returned the ball to the Moorpark 23-yard line, giving the ‘Gades a golden scoring opportunity.

The Raiders stopped BC’s touchdown drive, which set up a Martinez 43-yard field goal attempt. Martinez’s kick was good, and the ‘Gades led 27-24.

The Raiders had one last chance to score, but their hopes were dashed when defensive back Stewart intercepted a Merrill pass with 2:03 left.

The ‘Gades ran the time off the clock and sealed the victory.

“Michael Stewart stepped up and made some plays defensively when we needed some sophomore leadership,” Chudy said.

The last time the Renegades set foot on historic Memorial Stadium turf was on Oct. 22, when they trounced the visiting Santa Barbara Vaqueros, 47-6.

But the victory had its blunders and miscues, and the ‘Gades weren’t in sync before 3,293 fans.

“We weren’t consistent in practice this week, and it showed on the field in the first half,” said Jeff Chudy, BC coach. “We were out of sync.”

However, BC did manage to draw first blood as Nathaniel Berk, who has done a nice job filling in for kicker Jose Martinez, nailed a 43-yard field goal and the ‘Gades led 3-0.

“Berk has done a great job for us while Martinez has been injured,” said Jonathan Nunez, BC wide receiver.

“He’s made the kicks, and it’s been like an extra weapon for us. We know we can count on Berk if Martinez is injured.”

One blunder that cost BC against Santa Barbara was a recovered fumble in the end zone for a touchdown that gave the Vaqueros their only score of the game.

The kick failed, and the ‘Gades were down by three.

With 8:43 left in the half, Berk kicked his second field goal a 29-yarder which tied the score at six.

Both defenses were stubborn and creating turnovers that prevented the other from scoring when they had the chance.

But the ‘Gades were able to get the offense going and take a 13-6 lead just before the half when J.R. Rogers scored from 8 yards out and Berk kicked the extra point.

The second half was all BC as the ‘Gades converted numerous Vaquero turnovers into points.

Running back Le’Andre Matthews contributed to the point total as he added touchdown runs of 5 and 18 yards and Berk nailed a 33-yard field goal, his third of the night.

Peregrin tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Fielder and Berk added his last extra point of the night.

Running back Francis Ojukwu added a 2-yard touchdown run and Martinez kicked the extra point making the score 44-6.

Martinez, who had been missing in action because of an injury, came in to put the final nail in the coffin for BC as he nailed a 27-yard field goal to make the lopsided score 47-6.

“Martinez is such a talented kicker,” Chudy said. “He is a weapon and we are glad to have him back. Berk did a great job in the kicking game while he was gone.”

The Homecoming game against Ventura will start at 7 p.m. Pre-game festivities will start at 6:30.

“If the ‘Gades win out, they will be in contention for the playoffs,” Stuebbe said.