Penalties slow, but don’t stop the Rams’ roll to state title game at home on Dec. 12
By Patrick Cochran/Staff Writer
For the second year in a row the City College Rams are the Northern California football champions. Playing at home against Chabot College and their explosive offense that scored 76 points against San Mateo the previous week, the Rams outplayed their opponent in a 40-30 win.
Receiving the opening kickoff, the Rams struck right away on offense. Quarterback Anthony Gordon led the team 67 yards in less than two minutes and found wide receiver Antoine Porter open on a seven-yard pass for the touchdown.
Chabot began the next drive with good field position due to a personal foul on the Rams that was called after the touchdown, the first of many such fouls for the Rams that afternoon.
The Rams had to kick the ball off 15 yards further than usual, and the Chabot returner took it all the way to Rams’ 37-yard line. Fortunately for the Rams, the defense stepped up in the red zone and stopped Chabot at the 11-yard line on third down. Chabot was forced to settle for a 27-yard goal instead leaving the score at 7-3.
Penalties were the Rams main problem all afternoon, and probably prevented the team from scoring even more.
“We played really well but our penalties are outrageous and so controllable. We have to address that problem,” City College head coach Jimmy Collins said.
Later in the first quarter, the Rams got their own field goal. Kicker Cristian Antezana nailed a 22-yard field goal after the Rams offense stalled out after a long 59-yard drive.
“We played really well but our penalties are outrageous and so uncontrollable.”
— Jimmy Collins
To start the second quarter, Gordon led another impressive drive that concluded in a passing touchdown. Going 79 yards in four minutes, Gordon finished the drive with a beautiful 34-yard touchdown to running back Thomas Buntenbah. The offensive line allowed Gordon plenty of time to find Buntenbah open in the left part of the endzone. Buntenbah, a versatile weapon on offense that lines up at both running back and wide receiver, deftly kept his feet in bounds to get the touchdown.
The Rams increased their lead with a safety and a touchdown on the resulting drive, Gordon finished the 9-play, 64-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Easop Winston. Winston ran an out route, catching the pass in the front right on the end zone and showed ballerina-like skills keeping his feet in bounds.
A Chabot touchdown drive right before the end of the second quarter left the score 26-10 at halftime.
The second half was much more tumultuous for the Rams. While they never relinquished the lead, the team was plagued by personal fouls, mistakes and the occasional turnover.
“We are now just one game away from our ultimate goal, winning the state championship.”
— Easop Winston
Everything was running smoothly at first. The offense got the first score of the second half after Gordon found Porter open for a 12-yard touchdown.
Down 33-10, Chabot rallied on the next drive marching 75 yards in a little over three minutes. The drive was finished with a two-yard rushing touchdown by running back Ondre Rudolph. Hitting the extra point, Chabot narrowed the score to 33-17.
The Rams would increase their lead with a four-yard rushing touchdown by running back Namane Modise midway through the third quarter. Modise had a productive afternoon rushing for 61 yards and a touchdown while filling in for starting running back Elijah Dale, who was out with a knee injury.
“With Elijah Dale out we decided to do running back by committee and Namane (Modise), and Thomas (Buntenbah) did a great job,” Collins said.
Down by 23 points, Chabot attempted to rally back with two fourth quarter touchdowns to narrow the score to 40-30, but it was too little too late.
Winning the NorCal championship is a huge achievement for head coach Jimmy Collins in his first season. Tasked with taking over a team that won nine Northern California titles under George Rush, along with seven state and national junior college titles, taking his team to the championship is a great way to show that this is Collins’ team, and that there was no drop off when coach Rush retired after last season.
Despite the victory, Collins knows there are some things his team needs to work on before the state championship game in two weeks.
“Winning the championship is always good,” Collins said. “Now we just have to get healthy, and prepare for the game.”
The Rams will face Saddleback College in the state championship game who just won the southern california football championship with a 43-17 win over Long Beach City College.
“We worked so hard for this,” Winston said. “All throughout the spring and during training camp. We are now just one game away from our ultimate goal, winning the state championship. “
Gordon wants to make sure this team get its name up on the legacy board, so it can remembered along with the other great City college teams.
“Its an honor to win the NorCal championship,” Gordon said. “It is something we strived for all year. We want to put the 2015 team twice up on the legacy board, and we are on our way to a third.”
The Rams will host the state championship game on Dec. 12 at 1 p.m.
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