Three missed field goals and a successful onside kick by San Mateo spelled doom for previously unbeaten Santa Rosa JC as the host Bulldogs eked out a 24-21 victory Saturday afternoon.

It was the Big 6 Conference opener for both schools.

Santa Rosa kickers missed field goals of 22 and 25 yards, and in the third quarter the holder muffed the snap on another attempt.

“We couldn’t make a field goal,” coach Lenny Wagner said. “No question had we made those, it would’ve changed the outcome of the game.”

The successful onside kick by San Mateo came early in the third quarter and was eventually cashed in for a touchdown. The 15-yard scoring catch by Miles Willis put the home team ahead, 21-14.

San Mateo then increased the lead to 24-14 on a 39-yard Justin Watts field goal with 12:09 left the game.

Less than two minutes later, the Bear Cubs completed the scoring with a 2-yard pass from Christian McAlvain (Windsor High) to Mikal Stoney-Quitoriano. The key play in the drive was a 50-yard run by Desmond Nisby (Anderson Valley).

Santa Rosa had two more possessions but was unable to move into San Mateo territory.

Santa Rosa outgained the home team, 413 yards to 331.

“I thought we outplayed them,” Wagner said. “It was a disappointing loss.”

Nisby was the leading ground-gainer for the Bear Cubs. He picked up 84 yards on nine carries. McAlvain had 66 yards on 16 rushes.

McAlvain attempted 33 passes and completed 16 for 220 yards and two touchdowns.

Terence Drew caught four passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Singh (Casa Grande) also had four catches.

Vai Taito was all over the field on defense. The former Rancho Cotate linebacker made nine solo tackles and assisted on five others.

The two schools combined for 219 yards in accepted penalties. Santa Rosa was whistled 13 times for 121 yards.

“Penalties have been a problem for us all season,” Wagner said. “We overcame it in our other games, but this time it really hurt us. It cut short a couple of our drives and kept several San Mateo drives alive.

“I can’t fault the effort the guys gave. Everyone tried real hard. We just need to clean up a few things.”

Both teams had trouble with third-down efficiency. The Bear Cubs converted only one of 15. San Mateo was just a little better (four of 17).

San Mateo and Santa Rosa are now both 5-1.

It doesn’t get easier for SRJC. Next Saturday afternoon, the Bear Cubs visit City College of San Francisco. That school is 5-1 and has scored more than 60 points in its last two games.