CSM thwarts American River to earn berth in CCCAA Football Championship

CSM thwarts American River to earn berth in CCCAA Football Championship

Contact: Fred Baer, College of San Mateo sports information              baerf@smccd.edu


SACRAMENTO – A 27-yard field goal attempt by American River College placekicker Julian Diaz with 20 seconds remaining sailed to the left of the uprights and College of San Mateo was able to escape from Sacramento with a 24-21 Northern California Football Conference title deciding victory Saturday night. That earned the Bulldogs (11-1) a return trip to the State Capitol on Dec. 9 (1 p.m.) for the California Community College Athletic Association championship game against defending state champion Fullerton College (12-0) at Sacramento City College's Hughes Stadium.

After a 10-10 halftime deadlock, Diaz had given the Beavers a 13-10 lead on a 27-yard field goal with 11:11 left in the third quarter. (He also had a first quarter 21-yard kick to tie the game at 3-3.)

CSM responded quickly in that third period, immediately driving 80 yards to go ahead for good at 17-13 on a 1-yard TD run by Cameron Taylor, his second of the game. Taylor (a 5-8, 265-pound freshman out of San Mateo's Hillsdale High) had all of the rushes in that drive and was the game's top offensive player with 201 yards on 31 carries. He was accompanied on that drive by two long pass plays of 29 and 22 yards from Shawn Akina to Rajae Johnson.

Akina completed 9-of-18 passes for 136 yards – including a 29-yard TD pass to Jared Latu with 4:47 left in the third period for what proved to be the deciding points.

But American River drove for a fourth quarter score to get back in contention on a 5-yard TD run by quarterback Hunter Rodrigues, followed by a successful 2-point conversion pass to Jacob Sipes to close to 24-21 with 5:39 left. Following a CSM punt, the Beavers drive started their last drive on their own 36 with 2:58 left in the game. They reached the CSM ten before the potential tying field goal (on fourth and one) missed sending the game into overtime. San Mateo used its final time out just before the failed kick.

Rodrigues completed 17 of 32 passes for 182 yards and also rushed for 105 yards on 25 carries.

RECORD ACHIEVEMENTS: Taylor moved into a tie for second on CSM's season scoring list with Julian Edelman (2005) and Mario Ballestrasse (1985), each with 17 touchdowns. The Bulldogs freshman out of Hillsdale High is two TDs shy of the record 19 set by George Naufahu in 2013. With 945 yards rushing, Taylor is just 55 yards short of becoming San Mateo's seventh 1,000 yard rusher – on a list headed by Edelman's 1,253 yards in 2005.

--CSM sophomore kicker Justin Watts had a 32-yard field goal to cap CSM's opening game drive and also kicked three extra points. His 88 points for the season ties the San Mateo kick-scoring record set by Kenny Anderson in 2011. Watts added to his San Mateo career record which is now 164 kicking points.  

--San Mateo avenged its only 2017 season loss, 21-20, on a blocked extra point by the Beavers in the final minute of their Sept. 30 non-league meeting.

--American River, the state runner-up to Fullerton in 2016, finished 10-2

--Fullerton repeated as Southern California Football Association champion Saturday afternoon, defeating Riverside CC, 75-15.

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE SHAPING UP: Fullerton is the defending state and mythical national (poll) champion and is currently ranked No. 1 in the USA by JC Gridwire (jcfootball.com). CSM was No. 4 nationally last week. Two teams ahead of the Bulldogs, Riverside and American River, lost over the weekend.

San Mateo finished the regular season No. 3 in the state in the final regular season poll of California Community College Football Coaches by the JC Athletic Bureau. By agreement with the coaches association, the two state finalists will be No. 1 and 2 in the final state poll with rank determined by their title match.

197 YEARS OF JC FOOTBALL: The 2017 title game will match two of the oldest football programs in the CCCAA – meeting for the first time. Fullerton fielded it first team in 1916 but then had a World War I gap until 1921 and 1922, followed by another break until 1925.

--CSM has now won 11 games in a season for the first time in the college's 95-year football history, which began in 1922.

--San Mateo previously played in – and hosted – the 2009 official state title game, falling to Mt. San Antonio on a rainy day.

The San Mateo defense made several big stops against ARC, including four sacks, two more tackles for loss, and eight pass break-ups. Defensive back Deon White had nine tackles (six solo). Defensive lineman David Musika had eight tackles (four solo), with a sack and a forced fumble. Linebacker Dorrzel Hicks had six tackles, including a sack, plus a fumble recovery and two pass break-ups.

CSM SUPER ALUM JULIAN EDELMAN PROVIDES INSPIRATION: New England Patriots superstar receiver Julian Edelman, currently sidelined with an injury, made the most of his Thanksgiving week visit home to the Peninsula to drop by practice during the week at CSM. He delivered an inspirational speech to the Bulldogs during a team meeting on Wednesday. Edelman, the former CSM quarterback, has a pair of Super Bowl rings – the 17th and 18th earned by College of San Mateo players and coaches.

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