By Patrick Cochran/Staff Writer
The Rams won their home opener in dominant fashion Saturday, shutting out rival Laney College to a tune of 28-0. The game featured standout performances by the offense, defense and special teams, giving the Rams a 2-0 start to the season .
After a scoreless first quarter, the Rams struck in the second quarter and never looked back. The first touchdown of the day came on a 45-yard punt return by cornerback Robert Taylor. Fielding the punt on the right side of the field, Taylor at first looked like he had nowhere to go and that the return would be inconsequential. But Taylor was able to weave his way through the opposition to find space, and once in the open field he sprinted toward the left side all the way to the end zone.
“I felt like the game was going too slow and I needed make a play for my team to get it started,” Taylor said. “After that we turned up and it was history.”
With a touchdown on the scoreboard, the Rams defense played a dominant series and forced Laney to punt. The Rams went on to complete a 13-play, 65-yard drive that was capped off by a one-yard Elijah Dale touchdown.
With the scoreboard showing a lopsided 14-0 game, what happened next is what really sucked the air out of Laney. On the kickoff Laney player Devante McGowen fielded the kick and ran up field, only to be hit hard by Rams Nick Pierotti, who forced the ball loose and into mid air. Multiple Rams players tried to bring the ball in to no avail, allowing it to slip out of their grasps. Finally Vince Camp got a hold of the ball , taking it 15 yards for the score. With the extra point, the Rams had a very comfortable 21-0 lead going into halftime.
The Rams’ final touchdown of the afternoon came on 15-play, 94-yard drive late in the third quarter that chewed up almost nine minutes of clock. Freshman quarterback Anthony Gordon looked in control of the offense, and the unit was in sync for the long drive. Standout receiver Easop Winston contributed with a 35-yard reception on a key play where the Rams were backed up on their own 3 yard line. In risk of a safety,. Gordon was able to avoid the pressure and find Winston on the left sideline, where he was one broken tackle away from going the distance for a touchdown.
“Anthony played lights out, and managed the game perfectly,” Rams head coach Jimmy Collins said. “One of the more dynamic passers we have ever had at this school. You are going to have some growing pains when you start the true freshman quarterback, but we are really excited about the player he is going to become.”
Gordon showed much more pocket awareness then he did in his first start against Sierra College, making savvy decisions to avoid sacks. Multiple times Gordon made the smart choice to throw the ball out of bounds instead of forcing passes that could be easily picked off by the defense.
In his second game at the helm of the Rams program, Collins was impressed by the entire team’s performance.
“The defense played really well, and we eliminated the mistakes from last week. Special teams was light outs, scoring two touchdowns, and the offense found a rhythm running the football, controlled the ball for most of the gamed,” Collins said.
The previous week versus Sierra, the Rams got off to a sluggish start and only took the lead in the final moments of the game, but this week the team played a nearly flawless game. The only area where the Rams struggled was penalties, with the team needing to cut back on the flags for offsides, false starts and other mental errors.
The difference this week was in preparation. “We definitely scouted better this week, As a team we were more focused,” Easop Winston said.
Next week the Rams travel to Fresno to take on Fresno City College. They hope that game will give them a 3-0 start to a season that is already looking very promising.
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