By Gene Thompson
The Butte College Roadrunners came to San Francisco on Saturday, Sept. 16 ready to play. They showed up at George Rush Stadium with hoards of their team’s supporters from the Chico area who erupted ecstatically when Jonah Marcaida received the kickoff at the 6-yard-line and exploded through the Rams kickoff team in a brilliant 94-yard return into the end zone. Roadrunners 6, Rams 0.
Russel Zimmerman, a bus driver for Butte, said, “I’m retiring next year and they’ve only lost one game that I drove them to. So odds are heavy in our favor.”
Butte missed the extra point.
Hassan Mahasin returned Butte’s kickoff 19 yards to the 28. On San Francisco’s first play from scrimmage, quarterback Dorian Hale rushed for 13 yards. Then the drive sputtered. A false start set them back 5 yards. Hassan Mahasin’s rush lost 6 yards. Then a personal foul cost the Rams 15 yards and a player ejection. A 17-yard run by Tyrei Washington was not enough and the Rams punted.
The Roadrunners’ next drive resulted in a field goal. The Rams were down 9-0. For the second week in a row, their offense was off to a slow start.
On their next possession, the Rams went three and out. Butte likewise went nowhere and punted. The Rams started on their own 29 and on their second play Hale was intercepted by Payton Henderson. One play later, Butte quarterback Rieger Sayre was intercepted by Dylan Camp for a touchback.
As the second quarter ended, City College was three plays into a 13-play drive that ended with a fourth-and-25 at the Butte 29. When the Roadrunners took over on downs after an incomplete Rams pass, the Butte bus driver was beginning to look clairvoyant.
But the defense held tough, and after Hale connected with Jeremiah Crum for 48 yards and with Tyrei Washington for a 15-yd touchdown, the half ended with San Francisco mercifully behind just 2 points, 9-7.
Rams fans seemed relieved as the aroma of pizza and hot dogs wafted through the stands. City College Student Chancellor Malinalli was unperturbed by the score. “It’s an exciting game. It’s just 2 points difference. I think it’s a real good matchup but City College is going to come out on top and continue on their journey for a championship. There’s nothing like City.”
The Rams owned the field in the second half, though it took a little time to prove it. Four minutes into the third quarter Jalen Camp recovered a Butte fumble in the end zone for San Francisco’s first lead. The point after made it 14-9.
With the City College defense holding well, the offense came alive and scored again on a 17-yard pass to Hassan Mahasin. It was 21-9 after the extra point.
Three plays into Butte’s next possession, Elias Williams intercepted Sayre at the Butte 42 and ran it in for another Rams touchdown, 27-9. The Roadrunners did not score on their next possession, but did soon after when Aiden Sullivan ran a Hale fumble into the end zone. Butte missed the point after, so the score was 27-15, which turned out to be the final score despite a successful Butte onside kick.
City College Offensive lineman Johnny Fragakis said, “This win was really important to us. Last year Butte was our first loss and it left a bad taste in our mouth. So this was like the Super Bowl to us. Last year we felt we had to defend the title and all that. This year we’re getting back to our roots, back to City College winning football.”
Head Coach Collins said he told the team, “”This was a fantastic win.’ Our defense played an amazing game and our offense stuck together. The offense demonstrated championship grit and the defense demonstrated championship dominance. This was a great team win.”
Laney College student Grace Smith and Larissa Ramirez, whose boyfriend, quarterback Jace Taylor, plays for City College, thought so too. “I like best the defense,” Smith said. “I feel like they were really doing their thing in this one. They really took us there. They were defending it, like they should. Yeah.”
Ramirez agreed. “I thought the game was really good. The defense went crazy. And we did really good. I think we can go all the way. Yay! The Rams are gonna take it all the way! Yay!”