By Eric Bean
The Rams jumped out to an early lead and never relinquished it. After leading 24 -10 at the half, the College of Sequoias Giants were on a mission to derail the Rams in the second to capture the Golden State Bowl title.
Although the City College Rams ended the 2022 regular season with a 6-4 record, they tied with three other teams for third place in the Bay 6 League at 3-2. Coming off the program’s 11th national championship and ninth state title during a perfect 13-0 run in 2021, it wasn’t as good as expected, but good enough to earn the team its 10th consecutive bowl game appearance.
On Saturday, Dec. 3 at George M. Rush Stadium, the Rams jumped out to an early lead and never relinquished it.
To open the game quarterback Jack Miller completed 6 of 7 passes on a 60 yard drive, then Shawn Allen punched it in with a 4-yard run up the middle. During this opening drive Aaron Espero would set the tone for the entire game. He caught four passes each moving the chains for first downs. To cap off the scoring drive, kicker Joseph Oliveira, who was 31 of 31 on point after touchdown attempts, nailed another for a 7-0 Rams lead with 10:22 in the first quarter.
On the first COS possession, the Rams defense came up big forcing a punt, but the Rams special teams sealed the deal with a blocked punt setting Rams kicker Oliveira for an easy chip shot as the Rams took a 10-0 lead with :52 left in the first quarter.
On their next possession, the Giants bounced back and drove 11 plays (10 rushing) 78 yards capped by Giants QB Nathan Lamb’s 7-yard scamper to put the Giants on the board and narrowing the Rms’ led to 10-7.
A another first-half touchdown run by Allen, a 25-yard field goal by Oliveira, and a 7-yard TD pass from Miller to Espero gave San Francisco a 24-10 lead heading into halftime.
In the third quarter both teams exchanged multiple punts. The Giants eventually gained momentum towards the end of the third that was fueled by two 15-yard penalties against the Rams.
The Giants drove for 72 yards on 10 plays (30 yards on Rams penalties) ending with a TD pass from QB Lamb to WR Willie Neal to narrow the Rams’ lead to 24-17 with 14:10 left in the 4th quarter.
The Giants were able to crank up that momentum once again when QB Lamb scrambled for a 38-yard tying touchdown run on their next possession with 7:24 left on the clock.
With the Bowl game on the line it was time to change that momentum. Golden State Bowl Player of the Game Espero returned the ensuing kickoff 15 yards, which set City College up with good field position. After a couple plays and facing third down and 10, QB Miller threw a 36-yard strike to WR Teneil Nichols to put the Rams in field goal range. Kicker Oliveira, who is sure “money” from 25 yards out, gave the Rams back the lead, 27-24 with 2:57 left on the clock.
After kickoff and a couple first downs drives by the Giants, it looked as if the momentum was changing yet again, but it wasn’t to be as Rams CB Isiah Revis, with 41 seconbds left in the game, picked off Giants QB Lamb for a 67-yard pick six touchdown to give the Rams a 34-24 win over the COS Giants for the 2022 Golden State Bowl title.
Espero earned Player of the Game honors for his 10 receptions for 155 yards and a touchdown.
Miller captured Offensive Player of the Game honors after completing 22 of 36 passes for 261 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He also ran 4 times for 13 yards.
On the defensive side,Tyler Lepolo won Defensive Player of the Game for his 13 tackles.