By Patrick Cochran:
A grey, overcast sky matched the tempo of the Rams in the first half—unexciting and uninspiring.
Laney College frustrated City College early in the game.
Quarterback Turner Baty could not get into a passing rhythm, and the offensive line was blown off the line by Laney’s defense, led by defensive end Eddie Heard, who showed his explosiveness when rushing from the outside.
The Rams’ special teams struggled again this game. Wide receiver Zach Schuller fumbled a punt return, and the special teams unit had an extra point blocked and returned for two points later in the game.
Despite the Rams’ first half troubles they managed to go into halftime trailing only 6-0.
City College returned for the third quarter showing signs of life.
Running back Daivon Ballard and wide receiver Xavier Amey were essential in the Rams offense. Ballard rushed 16 times for 159 yards and one touchdown. Amey had eight catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
“I definitely could have played a lot better,” Baty said. “Xavier really came through for me today.”
Laney’s offense revolved around their physical running game that pounded the ball up the middle continuously, but the Rams held their ground.
The Rams’ defense was sharp and made few mistakes. Cornerback Maurice Cannon made a key interception at the beginning of the fourth quarter that helped seal the victory for City College.
Cannon blamed a “bad week of practice” and “lack of focus” for the teams early difficulties.
“This week we can’t be distracted in our preparation,” Cannon said.
Wide receiver James Hickman agreed with his teammate.
“We slacked off too much this week and it showed in the first half,” Hickman said. “That can’t happen again.”
Whatever happened at halftime must have worked because the Rams were able to pull off a 21-8 victory to start the season with two consecutive wins.
“Coach Rush gave a hell of a halftime speech,” City College assistant offensive line coach Sam McNaulty said. “I’ll keep it at that.”
The Rams are challenging themselves to improve on their mistakes.
“We can’t let that happen again,” Baty said. “Most of the time when you play like that in the first half, you don’t get a chance to make up for it.”
Baty finished with 213 yards passing and two touchdowns, but only completed 19 out of 43 passing attempts.
The Rams travel to the San Joaquin Valley to face West Hills College in Coalinga on Sept. 21. Kickoff is at noon.