By Patrick Cochran
The Rams drubbed Santa Rosa 70-0, beating down on an opponent that was expected to put up much more of a challenge.
The meeting between the No. 3 ranked Rams and the No. 4 Bear Cubs was expected to be much more even, with both teams having 5-1 records.
The home game took place on the sunny afternoon of Oct. 25. The weather conditions were perfect for the Rams’ aerial assault.
Using five receiver sets throughout the game, quarterback Anthony Rodriguez played his best game of the season, throwing for 388 yards and six touchdowns.
“Anthony had his best game so far,” said head coach George Rush. “The offensive line’s blocking was outstanding and we decided to use a lot of five wide receiver sets and open the field up. We knew they were susceptible to that.”
The Rams’ strategy for the game was to use a spread offense, running four or five receiver sets and lining their tight end to the outside, instead of next to the offensive tackle. The gambit paid off, and the Rams were able to gash the Santa Rosa defense all afternoon.
The receivers and tight ends put in a top-notch performance. Notable performers included tight end Cole Hikutini, catching four passes for 135 yards and a touchdown, and wide receiver Maurice McSwain, scoring two touchdowns while catching five balls and hauling in 89 yards.
“We probably had our best week of practice all year,” said McSwain. “The line gave him the time, and we trust in our quarterback to make good decisions.”
Hikutini got much of his yardage after the catch, making a mockery of Santa Rosa defenders by juking, running past, and sometimes even running over them.
Hikutini’s 38 yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter featured him catching the ball from Rodriquez, then turning downfield where the big tight end burned the Bear Cub defenders in the open field.
Five yards away from the goal line, a Santa Rosa defender finally caught up to Hikutini and tried to make the tackle by jumping on this back. The effort was there, but Hikutini was too big and had too much momentum to be stopped and in a herculean effort dragged the player in the endzone while on his way to scoring six points.
McSwain was the team’s primary playmaker. His two touchdowns were 41 and 26 yards.
The 26-yard touchdown was retribution for a big touchdown catch that was called backed a couple plays before for an illegal block in the back by the Rams.
On the touchdown play taken away by the penalty, McSwain had his flashiest play of the game. Catching the ball over his shoulder, and then hitting the open field and burning past the opposing team, McSwain showed his elite ability. Unfortunately for the team, one of his teammates had blocked a defender in the back, resulting in a 15-yard penalty.
Dismayed but not completely discouraged, the Rams and McSwain responded a couple plays later with McSwain 26-yard touchdown catch in the back on the end zone.
“It looked clean to me, but I guess I didn’t see it all,” said McSwain. “But I wasn’t going to let that keep me down. I knew I would have another opportunity to get it.”
The defense played outstanding, shutting out a usually potent Santa Rosa offense. The stand out performer for the Rams was defensive end Tavita Faaiu, who had hat tricked rushing the quarterback, recording three sacks.
Faaiu and the rest of the Rams’ front seven put relentless pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. Hit after hit wore down Santa Rosa’s offense and blunted what is usually a sharp offensive attack.
With the season in its final stretch before the playoffs, City College now has a ton of momentum after pummeling Santa Rosa. Coach Rush seemed to know this, and after the game was very happy about the boost the victory gave to his team.
“It was our best game of the season, and got us going on the right track towards the conference championship,” Rush said.