By Patrick Cochran:
On a perfect fall day made for football, the City College Rams suffered a disheartening defeat. They faced off against rival San Mateo College and lost in a nail-biter, 30-25, resulting in their first conference loss.
Playing at San Mateo’s home field, with its sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay, City College had to deal with the undefeated Bulldogs’ relentless defensive pressure. At the same time, the Rams committed some costly mistakes they were unable to recover from.
Rams’ quarterback Turner Baty got no relief from San Mateo’s tenacious defense, and was sacked six times.
San Mateo’s defense was lead by defensive end Pio Vatuvei, who played at the University of Washington during the 2012 season before being dismissed from the program in July.
Vatuvei had four sacks, and the Rams were unable to come up with a way to stop him.
All afternoon Baty was forced to roll out of the pocket to avoid the pass rush, often times to the left, where he was forced to make difficult throws across his body while on the run.
Baty showed veteran savvy, opting to dump the ball to running back Daivon Ballard on simple screen passes or throwing the ball out of bounds instead of forcing dangerous passes.
Baty finished the day completing 20 of 53 passes for 262 yards with three passing touchdowns and one interception.
Despite the unending pass rush, Baty was able to keep the Rams in the game.
With five minutes left in the third quarter, and the Rams down 24-13, Baty was able to lead the team on an 87-yard drive that was capped off by an eight-yard Ballard touchdown run.
The City College offense rallied in the fourth quarter but ultimately only managed to exchange touchdowns with San Mateo.
Baty connected with tight end Jermaine Berry on a three-yard pass for the Rams final touchdown. Baty craftily avoided the pass rush and threw an off-balance floater that looked as though it could have been intercepted before landing in Berry’s hands in the end zone.
The Rams were unsuccessful on the two-point conversion attempt that was intercepted, and the subsequent onside kick also failed.
City College head coach George Rush was disappointed with his team’s tough loss.
“We practiced extremely well all week, but we let this game get away from us,” Rush said.
The Rams’ secondary was of particular concern to the head coach.
“Their performance cost us a lot,” Rush said. “I haven’t felt that underwhelmed about my secondary … in ten years. They didn’t play the edge well,”
Rams’ Safety Shalom Luani agreed that it was a discouraging day.
“We could of done a lot better as a unit,” Luani said. “In the first half we didn’t start the game out good and it hurt us.”
San Mateo quarterback Casey Wichman completed seven out of 12 passes for 199 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, while running for 73 yards.
Wichman was also able to run an effective option run with his running backs Michael Latu and George Naufahu that caused fits for the Rams’ defense.
The fans in the stands at San Mateo were hyped up, giving the contest a big-game feel that City College games often lack.
“We were getting ready for San Mateo all week. It’s a big game for us,” Rams’ wide receiver DeAndre Thompson said. “I was glad I could step up for this big game, even though it was a tough loss.”
Thompson finished the game with three receptions for 50 yards and one touchdown.
City College is now 5-2 and 1-1 in conference play.
The Rams next game is at home Nov. 2, against Foothill College. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.