Renegades open season with big loss

Daniel Ojeda, Sports Editor

The Bakersfield College football team opened their season with a resounding thud as they suffered a crushing 51-3 loss at the hands of Riverside City College.

As if suffering one of the most lopsided losses in school history wasn’t enough, the Renegades will try to continue without the services of star running back Curtis McGregor, who suffered a broken left arm early in the second quarter and is out for an extended period of time.

“Curtis is a big part of what’s going on. Hopefully, there’s a possibility he could come back. He’s a huge key to the whole operation, but somebody else is going to have to step up,” said head coach Jeff Chudy.

In the first matchup between both teams since 1958, Riverside took little time showing why they are the No. 3 ranked team in the state as they jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, opening the scoring with a punt return of 50 yards for a touchdown.

BC was able to get on the board with a 31 yard field goal by Parker Campbell early in the second quarter cutting the lead down to 14-3, but it was all Riverside after that.

Riverside would add another touchdown to extend the lead to 21-3 before the Renegades special teams made what was the first of two crucial mistakes.

On the ensuing kickoff, kick returner Derrick Vickers fielded the ball near the sideline before stepping out of bounds just inside the one-yard line. On the very next play, BC running back Xavier Williams was tackled in the end zone for a safety, extending the Riverside lead to 23-3 entering halftime, and ending a nightmare first half for the Renegades.

BC received the ball to open up the third quarter, and once again a special teams error proved to be key for the Renegades. Kick returner Vickers hesitated in the end zone, appearing as if he was going to down the ball but stepped out of the end zone, which forced him to return it before being tackled on BC’s own eight yard line.

After a three and out by the Renegades, Riverside was able to take advantage of good field positioning and convert it into another touchdown giving them a lopsided 30-3 lead. The thrashing was on.

Riverside scored 37 unanswered points after BC’s lone field goal handing the Renegades one of their worst losses in recent memory.

Riverside quarterback Kelly Hilinski shredded the BC secondary passing for 326 yards and two touchdowns. Hilinski constantly found the receivers wide open and was given plenty of protection by his offensive line as he had all day to throw.

Despite the yardage given up through the air, BC was able to hold Riverside’s leading rusher from last season, Christopher Anderson, to only 22 yards on 13 carries. Overall the Renegades were able to hold Riverside’s dominant running game to 74 yards for the game.

BC freshman Tarek Yaeggi made his debut as a college quarterback for the Renegades and he finished the game going 18-of-38 with 146 yards passing with one interception. Yaeggi had at least four passes that he delivered right on target but were dropped by his receivers.

McGregor led the Renegades in rushing yards finishing with 44 yards on 6 carries despite leaving the game early in the second quarter. Williams finished with 34 yards on 18 carries and assumed a majority of the carries when McGregor went down with the injury.

Marquise Johnson was Yaeggi’s top target, finishing with 65 receiving yards on nine receptions. Vickers finished with 53 yards on four receptions.

Despite the blowout, Chudy is staying confident and believes that mistakes that were made during the game can be corrected.

“The big plays that beat us weren’t physical mistakes. They were mental mistakes,” he said.

The Renegades ran into a buzz saw facing Riverside. The team is ranked No. 3 in the nation in the Junior College Grid-Wire’s preseason poll, and are coming off a season in which they finished 10-2. The only teams ranked higher are defending state champion Butte and state runner-up Fullerton.

With one week down and a disastrous loss in the books, the Renegades have to focus and still have an opportunity to become the good football team that Chudy knows his team can be.

“We’re definitely not there yet, we’ve definitely got a chance to be a good football team,” Chudy said. “We’ve got to learn from this and I think we’ll get better. I think we’ll compete for our conference title.”

Next up for the Renegades is the home opener against Golden West on Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.