STOCKTON — One second-half play displayed what could be the future for the Santa Rosa Junior College football team.
Jordon Brookshire, a freshman quarterback from Cardinal Newman, was scrambling out of the pocket, under pressure, and hurled a 44-yard touchdown pass across his body to LaRenzo Sterling on a fourth and 21.
That theatrical strike wasn’t enough to complete a comeback, as Delta beat Santa Rosa 38-28 on Saturday afternoon at DeRicco Field in Stockton, but the Bear Cubs showed as much potential as they have all season.
Brookshire, a master at turning broken plays into large chunks of yardage with his speed and strong arm, made a statement as he tries to earn the starting job for good.
“We still weren’t sure on our quarterback going into this game,” said Bear Cubs coach Lenny Wagner, who started Fort Bragg product and freshman Kaylor Sullivan. “It was good to see Jordon making plays with his legs.
“His ability to (get into) the open field, and making something out of nothing” is crucial for the offense, he said.
Delta (2-1), ranked No. 25 in the state in this week’s coaches’ poll, jumped all over a mistake-prone Santa Rosa in the second quarter. The Mustangs tallied 22 points and created a 22-point halftime lead at 29-7.
So, when Santa Rosa cashed in with three touchdowns and 21 points in the third quarter, Delta had enough breathing room to adjust and earn its second consecutive win.
Part of the second-quarter onslaught came from what Mustangs coach Gary Barlow called an “efficient” offense. Freshman quarterback Wayne Brooks — a dual-threat type of guy like Brookshire — connected with Robert Hinojosa twice for touchdown passes of 35 and 77 yards.
Plus, the Bear Cubs floundered on kickoffs, fumbling twice, and allowed long kickoff returns to the Mustangs’ Darrin Gentry that gave Delta the advantage in field position.
“Special teams killed us again. It’s been our nemesis, man,” said Wagner, a former Sonoma State player.
Wagner was quick to praise Delta, though, and point out the positives for a young, injury-ridden group whose prior losses were to No. 3 Butte and No. 10 Fresno City.
This was the first week that Santa Rosa had all five starting linemen healthy and playing, Wagner said.
“You feel like, ‘Man, we’ve got a chance, we’re coming back’ ” in the second half, Wagner said. “Without a doubt, (we have) positives that need to be acknowledged.”
Brookshire, whose father Darren Brookshire played basketball for Santa Rosa in the late 1980s, is inspired to be a Bear Cub and finding his form with his young teammates.
“There was definitely some comfort. Getting rhythm with the offense. Getting drives going,” said Brookshire, a former three-year starter at Cardinal Newman. “The best way to get a young team into the season is to start with those tough games. … it can’t get any worse.”’
Brookshire ran for a touchdown to open the second half, but Delta countered with a 14-yard TD strike from Brooks to Craig Perkins to make it 35-21.
The Bear Cubs’ Jahaiver Otero added a 1-yard TD run, and after Delta’s Peter Disch made a 24-yard field goal, Brookshire hit Sterling for that dramatic 4th down touchdown.