The Santa Rosa Junior College football team’s defense stuffed a potential game-winning drive in the final seconds Saturday, preserving a 28-23 lead over Butte College for the Bear Cubs’ first win of the season.
With 16 seconds left in the game and the Roadrunners trying to punch it in from the 4-yard line, the Bear Cubs held strong and improved their record to 1-1.
Both offenses started slow. Santa Rosa started Jake Simmons at quarterback, but after his team went three-and-out on the first possession and Simmons threw an interception on the second, head coach Lenny Wagner replaced Simmons with Kaylor Sullivan.
The first sign of any scoring came when the Roadrunners’ return man muffed a punt. Santa Rosa recovered, took over at Butte’s 9-yard line and Sullivan snagged the first points of the night on a 4-yard touchdown scramble.
Butte answered with a strong rushing attack, putting together a successful drive that ended in a 31-yard field goal, shortening the Bear Cubs’ lead to 7-3.
Butte’s defense forced a few stalled drives after that, and Santa Rosa decided to try Simmons again at quarterback, but he threw his second interception of the game on his first pass attempt.
Butte took advantage and finished the short drive with a 4-yard touchdown run from running back Jackson Taylor taking a 10-7 lead.
Sullivan returned and put together a good drive deep into Roadrunners territory. On a crucial fourth-and-short, Sullivan scrambled to get a new set of downs for the Bear Cubs. With 1:32 left in the half Sullivan threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Lucas Triplett taking back a 14-10 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff Santa Rosa’s Nico D’Amato recovered the ball to give the Bear Cubs possession right back in Roadrunner territory.
They made quick work of this drive and capped it off with an 11-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Kalei Aukai, increasing the Bear Cubs’ lead to 21-10 heading into halftime.
Butte came out of the break strong, and Taylor ripped off a 49-yard run to put the Roadrunners on SRJC’s 3-yard line. He followed that with a short touchdown run to bring it to 21-17.
Sullivan left the game with a high ankle sprain forcing Simmons to reenter, and he re-entered with a bang completing a 41-touchdown yard pass to wideout Lucas Triplett.
The Bear Cubs then held a 28-17 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
On the next series for Butte, the Santa Rosa defense continued to limit Butte’s offense until the Roadrunners completed a 59-yard pass to put them on the Bear Cubs 10-yard line.
Butte’s Taylor completed the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run, but the Roadrunners were unable to convert the extra point.
Simmons remained at quarterback for the remainder of the game for the Bear Cubs and threw his third interception on the following series. Butte took over and after a few rushing attempts stalled, the Roadrunners completed a 50-yard pass to get back in the red zone with less than four minutes in the game.
Trailing by 5, Butte turned back to Taylor, handing him the ball on the next several plays, and with 35 seconds left in the game, he converted with a short run on fourth-and-2.