The Santa Rosa Junior College football team continues to rise in the rankings after the nail-biting, double-overtime 49-42 victory over Feather River College on Saturday in Quincy.
Coming off a disappointing 2017 campaign, the Bear Cubs (4-1) were overlooked by many of the polls but as they’ve now racked up their fourth straight win they are finally getting some respect in the rankings, coming in at No. 10 in the California Community College Sports Information Association Oct. 1. Poll.
In the recent overtime win over the Feather River Golden Eagles, not only did Santa Rosa appear to find its starting quarterback in freshman Jake Simmons, after rotating between him and sophomore Kaylor Sullivan in the first half of the season, but the Bear Cubs also proved they have a productive passing game as Simmons threw for 271 yards, five passing touchdowns and led them to victory passing for the game winning touchdown in overtime Saturday.
Simmons also ran for 82 yards in the win and combined with running back Kenneth Fitzgerald rushed for over 180 yards for the Bear Cubs.
The leading receiver for Santa Rosa was once again sophomore Lucas Triplett, who leads the team in receiving yards and has been the favorite target of not only Simmons but Sullivan who played with him at Fort Bragg High School.
The Bear Cubs offense started slow in the first half not scoring until late in the second quarter when Simmons completed a 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Keichaun Parker with less than three minutes left in the half.
The real struggle for Santa Rosa in the first half came on defense allowing Feather River to score on its first three possessions, giving the Golden Eagles an early 21-0 lead.
After Feather River scored again late in the first, now holding the 28-7 lead, the Bear Cubs needed to respond strong in the second half, which they did outscoring the Golden Eagles 35-8, tying the score at 42-42 and forcing overtime.
With momentum on its side Santa Rosa came into the extra period firing, first snagging an interception on Feather River’s first drive and then followed that up by taking advantage of the good field position, capping off the game winning overtime drive with Simmons hitting wide receiver Kalei Aukai on a 5-yard touchdown pass to seal the dramatic win.
The Bear Cubs now will face their first conference opponent this season when they take on a tough San Mateo College team on Oct. 13 in San Mateo. The Bulldogs ranks No. 11, right behind Santa Rosa in the poll.
San Mateo (4-1) is looking to bounce back after a loss to the lower ranked Modesto College team who has risen to No. 13 after the win.
The Bulldogs’ defense should give the Bear Cubs some trouble as it ranks overall in the top-15 and has an especially stingy passing defense, ranking No. 4 — only allowing 128.3 passing yards per game.
“We need to be more disciplined and aligned with what the coaches say,” defensive lineman Jonah Kim said in response to their poor defensive performance Saturday. As for the San Mateo game, he added, “I expect us to do what we’re supposed to do and leave with the win.”