The Santa Rosa Junior College football team lost big in an important conference game against City College of San Francisco on Saturday, getting blown out on the road 62-14.
The game was not only a key Bay 6 Conference matchup for both teams — with the Bear Cubs ranked No. 7 and the Rams ranked No. 5 in the most recent California community college poll — but also a rematch between two former Redwood Empire quarterbacks.
SRJC quarterback Jake Simmons, who played for Rancho Cotate last season, and San Francisco quarterback Jack Newman, who graduated from Analy High School in 2017, were familiar foes before Saturday.
In high school, the two faced off in a shootout that ended with Analy and Newman walking away with a 63-46 win.
On Saturday, Newman got the best of Simmons’ team again.
“The first half was close — it was 14-14 at one point, and then the speed factor was really the biggest differential in the game. They have great team speed,” Santa Rosa head coach Lenny Wagner said of San Francisco.
After keeping it tight in the beginning, the Rams came alive on defense, returning three interceptions for touchdowns to go into the half with a 34-14 lead.
It was part of a six-interception day for San Francisco’s defense.
“They’re just really fast and we let it get out of control. We had three picks for six ... it’s pretty tough to recover from that against a good team,” Wagner said.
Simmons has led the Bear Cubs to a 5-4 record overall (1-3 in the Bay 6) and before Saturday’s game he had averaged over 250 yards per game, throwing 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions, He won the starting job after battling with last year’s quarterback, Kaylor Sullivan earlier in the season.
Although the passing offense has been impressive for the Bear Cubs, their defense has been a completely different story. They’ve allowed 30.8 points per game, including more than 40 points in each of their last four matchups — even before the 63 allowed Saturday. The defense ranks in the bottom half of the state community college teams, allowing an average of 400 yards of offense.
Despite the Ram’ defense clamping down on his team for most of the game, Wagner was optimistic about the performances of quarterbacks Simmons as well as Sullivan, who also saw action in the loss.
“(Simmons) played good — a couple of the picks bounced off guys straight up in the air and someone else got it,” Wagner said. “They weren’t all bad throws.”
Santa Rosa will face Diablo Valley College at 5 p.m. Saturday at Santa Rosa High School in the the last regular- season game.
“We’ve got to win this week to play in a bowl game. We’re thankful that we still have that opportunity in front of us if we get it done, and I think our guys will respond the right way — they have all year,” Wagner said. “This has been a really enjoyable team to coach and they play hard. I don’t have any issue not worrying about them having to get up for next week’s game.”