By Patrick Cochran/ Staff Writer
The last time City College and American River met on the football field it was in the Northern California Championship game where the Rams won 17-14 on a last second field goal to advance to the state title game. The game on Saturday, Sept. 26, would end in a similar fashion, but with the team’s roles reversed.
A tight contest all afternoon, the game was tied 17-17 with three minutes left in game. Beginning on their own 28 yard line, American River drove down the field and on the game’s last play their kicker Sam Kiel nailed a 25 yard field goal to give them the 20-17 victory, handing City College (3-1) their first loss of the season.
Penalties plagued the Rams all afternoon, with the team being flagged 14 times for 165 yards. Two major kick returns were negated because of blocking penalties, one that would have been a touchdown and another that was returned all the way to American River’s 13 yard line. Those flags, along with others during key moments, cost the Rams the game.
“It was a hard fought game, but there was a lot of mental mistakes on our part,” wide receiver Easop Winston said after the game. “I feel like if you wipe out those mental mistakes, we would of put up 21, 24 or even 30 points. I think we beat ourselves out there today, but congratulations to American River, they played good. Later on in the season hopefully we see them again and come with the victory.”
Besides the penalties, the Rams played a pretty good game of football. In his fourth start at quarterback, freshman Anthony Gordon continued to look poised and confident under center throwing for 308 yards, while completing 25 of 42 passes with two touchdowns and one interception.
The Ram’s wide receivers continued to shine. Antoine Porter had four catches for 84 yards and one touchdown, and Winston had 10 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown. Gordon and Winston have put up an aerial show so far this season and through the team’s first four games, Winston has 31 receptions for 525 yards and six touchdowns. He is one of the top-five in the entire California Community College Athletic Association for yards, yards per game, receptions, and touchdowns.
Despite his solid performance, Porter expected more out of himself and his team. “I feel like the part I played I could of played better, faster and smarter,” Porter said. “As a group we just got to be smarter. We started out real slow and at the end came together but it was too late.”
While the passing offense was effective for most of the game, the team’s rushing attack was lackluster. Running back Elijah Dale, who usually is a focal point of the offense, struggled against American River’s front seven who kept stuffing Dale and the Ram’s other running backs at the line of scrimmage all game. Dale finished the game with 51 rushing yards on 20 attempts, for a 2.6 average per rush, well below his season average of 4.1 yards per rush.
The Rams faced a similar situation last season where they faced American River early in the season and lost 13-0. The team was able to use that as a learning situation and won the rematch in the NorCal championship game. The players hope this loss proves to be the same with a chance to learn about a foe they have a likelihood of playing again in the playoffs.
“We have to use this as a learning experience, like we did last year. Last season we were projected to be really good but then were shutout but that helped us come together,” Porter said. ”This year we are really young and a lot our players haven’t seen this type of game yet. It is a good chance to see us lose and realize that we have to come out together as a team, We have to jump out on teams from the start; just can’t go out there and play slow like we did this week.”
“I think as a team we will use this to realize we can’t play slow and have to be smarter with penalties,” Porter said. ”If we learn like we did after last season loss to them, and I think we can, we will be hopefully seeing them in the playoffs again. It is hard to beat a team twice.”
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