By Sara Bloomberg
As the moon smiled down on Ram Stadium through a nearly cloudless, sunny sky, City College narrowly defeated American River College 41-36 on Nov. 24 and will go on to the state championships.
The Rams collected most of their points in the first half of the game and almost lost during the last three seconds of the fourth quarter when the Beavers gained possession after a Rams’ false start.
From the press box to the field, tensions increased as it became apparent that either team could win in an instant—and everything depended on the Beavers’ performance in those last three seconds.
Beavers quarterback Mike Hicks passed the ball in the last seconds of the game to wide receiver Diondre Baston.
They didn’t make the play.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Hicks said. ”We thought we had the game won.”
Humbled by their recent loss to Butte College, the Rams played a strong first half, where they scored 34 points, only seven short of their final winning score.
Despite losing some momentum after halftime, Head Coach George Rush only smiled as he reflected on the weaknesses in their performance.
“Offensively we couldn’t have played much better in the first half and I have no idea what we were doing in the second half,” Rush said. “Maybe we ran the ball a little too much [in the second half…] maybe got a little too conservative but we’ll fix that. It’s not a big deal.”
The Rams experienced their first defeat in two seasons on Nov. 10 against Butte College but still rank No. 1 in the state, in a three-way tie with Butte and DeAnza.
Drake Whitehurst, a receiver for the Rams, saw last game’s loss as a reality check.
“I think we actually sort of needed that [loss] just to put a reality check” on the team, Whitehurst said, and continued that it fueled their drive to step it up in future games.
He remains confident in their ability as a team, nonetheless.
“I was definitely worried,” Whitehurst said as he described watching the final moments of play from the sidelines. “I had trust and faith in my defense but it was a close call.”
The Rams have won six state championship titles since 1999 and will play against Bakersfield College on Dec. 8. at Bakersfield College Memorial Stadium.
Follow Sara on Twitter: @BloomReports (643)