From Canyons to the Desert and back

Leanne Cave

After a 45-35 victory over College of the Desert in the Golden Empire Bowl on Nov. 17, the Bakersfield College Renegades, 11-0 and No. 1 in the state, will host College of the Canyons in the semifinals of the Southern California playoffs on Saturday.
“We’ve advanced to the semifinals three years in a row,” said Jeff Chudy, BC head coach. “It’s awesome what we’ve been able to do and that we are undefeated.”
The fact that the Renegades are unbeaten may be one of the reasons that attendance has improved this season. The BC attendance average in 2007 is 5,851.
“We’ve had about the best attendance since the mid ’80s,” said Jan Stuebbe, BC athletic director. “We have an exciting team that is undefeated and fun to watch. We also have tailgate themes that have become a Saturday happening.”
The contest between BC and Canyons (9-2) will be a rematch of the Western State Conference Mountain Division Championship in which the Renegades eventually prevailed, 45-41.
Over the years, the two state powers have fought in some heated battles and have gained ultimate respect for one another.
“I think it’s awesome, incredible actually, that we get to play BC in the semifinals,” said Garrett Tujague, Canyons head coach. “I’ve known Jeff (Chudy) for 10 years, and we’ve always loved to play BC. It is a class-act program with great players, coaches and fans. We’ve put ourselves in the position to get another chance at them.”
In the Nov. 10 meeting, the Cougars forced BC to come from behind to win its 10th game of the season.
The first quarter was action packed for the 8,931 fans in attendance as 27 points were notched on the scoreboard. The Renegades scored first as Jacob Bower capped off an impressive drive with a 1-yard run and Arturo Villa kicked the extra point to make the score 7-0. Canyons tied the score 7-7 on a nice 33-yard run by Raphael Reynolds and extra point by kicker Paul Weinstein.
The next score was vintage BC offense as Bower completed a 43-yard bomb to wide receiver Attrail Snipes. Snipes made a spectacular catch extending up over the defender to pull it down. Villa, the No. 1 kicker in California, added his second point of the contest making the score, 14-7. The Cougars once again didn’t waste any time as they added six more points on a 7-yard touchdown run by Brad McClellan, bringing Canyons to within 14-13.
The BC offense dominated the second quarter with an aerial assault on the Cougars. Bower connected on touchdown strikes to Snipes (15 yards), Brandon Banks (32 yards) and Greg Williams (15 yards). Villa added all three extra point attempts.
Bower completed 22 of 36 for 236 yards, five touchdowns and no picks.
McClellan scored on a 1-yard run early in the second quarter for Canyons; the 2-point conversion was no good.
At the half, the score read 35-19 BC.
The third quarter was all Canyons. The Cougars showed determination and tenacity as they crept back into the contest on a beautiful 75-yard touchdown run by Winborn. Winborn also scored from two yards out. Both extra points were good by Weinstein and the visitors were within two points of BC, 35-33.
The fourth quarter ended up being closer than the home team would have liked.
Villa added three more points to his total as he nailed a 43-yard field goal putting the Renegades up 38-33.
McClellan was not finished. The backup quarterback, who came in due to injury to starting QB Joey Frias, led his team down the field and scored on a 9-yard run. Weinstein added the point after and the Cougars led for the first time, 41-38.
But the BC offense was not shaken.
Bower brought the Renegades back in one of the most important drives of the season and tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Banks in the corner of the end zone.
Villa added his ninth point on the PAT and BC recaptured the lead, 45-41.
Banks, who has had stellar performances for the Renegades this season, became BC’s single-season record holder for pass receptions.
Canyons had one last opportunity to score, but BC cornerback Keith Thompson intercepted the last minute pass in the end zone sealing the WSC championship for the ‘Gades.
“The defense had to step up and make the plays,” Chudy said. “That’s the reason why we have to play for 60 minutes.”
The Golden Empire Bowl on Nov. 17 was definitely a 60 minute event for the Renegades and the College of the Desert Roadrunners.
BC put four touchdowns on the board in the first half, while Desert managed two. All PAT’s by Villa and Deserts’ Tejada were good.
BC led at the half, 28-14.
The passing game for BC was intact as usual as Jacob Bower connected on a 28-yard touchdown strike to Brandon Banks to put the ‘Gades up 14-7 early in the second quarter. The talented wide receiver also made key blocks that enabled running back Bruce Frieson to sprint 70-yards into the end zone to put the ‘Gades back in the lead, 21-14. Frieson also scored on a 3-yard run and amassed 194 yards rushing in the contest.
“Frieson has great balance and is a super kid,” Chudy said.
The third quarter was BC’s Bower to Snipes show as the duo connected on touchdown passes of 26 and 69 yards to put the ‘Gades up 42-14.
For the second straight week, BC watched a big lead slip away in the second half.
“It’s natural that once you get a big lead, you have a letdown,” said BC offensive coach Carl Dean. “We just have to do a better job adding points and not take for granted that we’ve got a big lead.”
Desert proved they deserved to be in the quarterfinals as they racked up 21 points and edged within seven of the highly favored home team, 42-35.
But BC’s Villa nailed a 32-yard FG with 1:48 left on the clock to put the Renegades in front 45-35 and linebacker Daron Mackey picked off a Roadrunner pass to seal the Golden Empire Bowl victory.
Banks was chosen as the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Saturday’s game against College of the Canyons has a big difference than the first meeting this season – this time the loser’s season is over. Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $5 for children and students. Gates are scheduled to open at 2:30 p.m. with a kickoff at 4 p.m.