The Santa Rosa Junior College football team had high hopes entering its Bay 6 conference opener, but College of San Mateo proved why teams should fear its shutdown passing defense in the Bear Cubs’ dismal 41-9 loss Saturday in San Mateo.
Santa Rosa, ranked No. 10 in the state heading into the game, had quarterback Jake Simmons on a hot streak and flying high coming into the game after averaging 284 yards and three touchdowns over his last two games. But the offense came crashing back to earth Saturday as the No. 11 Bulldogs (4-2, 1-0 Bay 6) put up stingy pass defense to dominate the Bear Cubs (4-2, 0-1).
“The hard part for me is that we don’t even know if that’s a good team that we just played because we didn’t allow them to be good. We got in our own way today,” said Santa Rosa head coach Lenny Wagner.
Simmons put up 196 yards through the air including one interception. But the running game was even worse, earning only 22 yards on 25 attempts against a defense that, despite its stellar passing numbers, has been very poor defending the run.
“Probably after game one we realized with the type of lineman we have and the type of players we have for us to be successful we have to be throwing the ball,” Wagner said. “And our linemen are really good pass blockers, so we’ve got to build on our strengths and stop trying to bang our head against the wall in the run game.”
Making it even more difficult for Santa Rosa to move the ball was a poor performance on special teams that put them in bad field position throughout the game.
“We played on one half of the field pretty much the whole game,” Wagner said.
This game marked the start of the conference season for the two teams and entering the game it appeared it would be an even matchup between the two. But it was apparent from the first quarter that was not the case.
San Mateo’s first two offensive possessions ended in scores for a 10-0 lead. As for Santa Rosa’s offense, it was a struggle for them to just get a first down throughout the first half, and the only points the Bear Cubs were able to put up came off a safety in the beginning of the second quarter.
The Bulldogs continued their success after their first two drives by scoring three more times in the first quarter, off a field goal and two passing touchdowns from quarterback Shawn Akina.
“The first quarter was like 27-0, three picks, 10 penalties and dropping balls, it was just a mess and we played better after that, but you can’t spot a good team 27 points and expect to win,” Wagner said.
Akina attempted to put the game out of reach by throwing a 14-yard touchdown to give San Mateo a daunting 34-2 lead at halftime.
Simmons and the Bear Cubs came out trying to reduce the lead immediately in the second half and with over 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter Simmons threw his first, and only, touchdown of the day, hitting his favorite target Lucas Triplett 16 yards for the score.