It was the most-anticipated and talked-about JC football game in Southern California in memory, and the mood was festive with a huge crowd, RCC's huge marching band, a cannon, a tiger in a cage (actually a person in a mascot costume in a prop cage) and team uniforms that made it look like the Cincinnati Bengals were taking on the Alabama Crimson Tide.
And there was plenty of intrigue among the competitors, as Riverside Head Coach Tom Craft was Offensive Coordinator at Mt. SAC from 2006 through 2009. Several other Riverside coaches also have Mt. SAC connections, most notably Kevin Craft, Tom's son, who is now quarterbacks coach for Riverside but was an All-American at Mt. SAC in 2008 before heading to UCLA. And Livingston redshirted at Mt. SAC in 2008 as well.
And yet, early on it looked like Mt. SAC was set to spoil the party. Riverside took the game's opening kickoff but went three-and-out, and the Mounties marched right down the field on their first possession. Cameron Deen nearly connected with Alonzo Agwuenu on a touchdown pass, but Agwuenu was ruled out of bounds in the end zone and Mt. SAC had to settle for a field goal. The timing was off on the hold & kick, but luck seemed on the side of the Mounties when Abraham Torres' kick bounced off the crossbar and over to give Mt. SAC a 3-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
Less than two minutes later, Mt. SAC extended its lead to 9-0 when John Scanlan scored on a 1-yard run following an interception and return by Richard Thorpe. Thorpe grabbed a ball that was tipped at the line and returned it to the Riverside 3 yard-line. Riverside's Eddie Lackey blocked the extra point to keep it 9-0, but Mt. SAC added a 44-yard field goal from Travis Coons later in the quarter to make it 12-0.
When the first quarter ended, not only did Riverside trail by 12 points, but the Tiger offense, which entered ranked first in California averaging 63 points per game, had managed just 33 yards of offense. But on the first play of the second quarter, Livingston threw a 19-yard pass to Kendell Mays, one of four third-down conversions on what became a 12-play, 83-yard drive. Livingston's 17-yard touchdown pass to Foster capped the drive and made it 12-7.
Neither team scored again in the first half. Mt. SAC received the kickoff to begin the second half, but quickly went three-and-out. Riverside then put together an 11-play, 57-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Jamil Austin that put the Tigers ahead, 14-12, midway through the third quarter, much to the delight of the overwhelmingly orange-clad Riverside crowd.
But that lead only lasted four minutes before Deen hit Agwuenu with a slant pass over the middle, and the 6-4 Agwuenu sped away from the Tiger defense for a 60-yard touchdown pass. And the Mt. SAC defense flexed its muscles after that, forcing consecutive three-and-outs for the Riverside offense as the game went into the fourth quarter. With just over 13 minutes to go, Riverside got the ball back again, but gained possession at its 6 yard-line after Mt. SAC downed Daniel Colby's punt inside the 10 for the second straight time.
Just over a minute later came the play of the game, Livingston's 90-yard pass to Foster that broke the previous RCC mark for longest pass play. Facing 3rd and 6 from the 10, Livingston lofted a long pass over the middle, which Foster caught just before midfield. The Mt. SAC defender tried to make the tackle and even got Foster's facemask, but the sophomore receiver pulled free anyway and sped down the field, into the end zone and into the RCC record books. Livingston threw a short toss to Jon Greenwalt for the 2-point conversion to make it 22-19 with 12:01 left.
And a minute after that, Riverside had a 10-point lead after another touchdown, thanks largely to an interception and return by Bruce Jones. On 2nd and 4 from the 26, Deen threw a pass towards the right sideline that Jones intercepted and returned to the Mt. SAC 8. Two plays later, E.J. Schexnayder scored on a 5-yard run that made it 29-19 with 11:01 left.
Mt. SAC got one last touchdown when Deen threw a short third-down pass that Matthew Botello turned into a 32-yard touchdown strike with 1:19 remaining. However, on the ensuing kickoff, Mt. SAC tried an onsides kick that traveled only 9 yards rather than the required 10, turning the ball over to Riverside. The Tigers then ran out the clock, setting off a wild celebration on the home side of the stadium.
For Riverside, Livingston completed 16 of 36 passes for 247 yards and 2 touchdowns, and his one interception came on a ball tipped at the line. Foster led all receivers with 136 yards, with 90 coming on the record-setting go-ahead touchdown, and had 2 touchdowns from his 4 catches. Greenwalt had 5 catches for 51 yards. Schnexnayder led all rushers with 66 yards on 17 carries, and also scored a touchdown. Jones with his two interceptions and Justin Rayside with two quarterback sacks led the Tiger defense.
For Mt. SAC, Deen completed 16 of 38 passes for 266 yards and 2 touchdowns, but had 3 interceptions, all in the fourth quarter. Botello led Mt. SAC rushers with 56 yards on 17 carries, and he also had 2 catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. Darrin Duncan led Mt. SAC with 4 catches, good for 60 yards, while Agwuenu had 3 catches for 77 yards.
And it was an amazingly evenly-played game, statistically speaking. The total yards count favored Riverside, 345 to 322. But the teams each had 15 first downs and, most remarkably, each had possession for exactly 30 minutes. Each team had one long touchdown pass in the second half. The difference was the turnover count, which was plus-2 in favor of Riverside, which is now plus-9 in three games this season.
The win is Riverside's 11th straight, having last lost at Mt. SAC last September 25th. And the loss breaks a 26-game win streak for the Mounties, who had not been defeated since a loss at home to Saddleback on September 26, 2009. Moreover, it's the first time Riverside has defeated Mt. SAC since 2001 and only the second time in 17 tries since 1990.
Riverside Tigers 29
Mt. San Antonio Mounties 26
Saturday, September 24, 2011 - 6 pm - Wheelock Stadium, Riverside
M - FG Torres 29 yds 10:11 (0-3)
M - Scanlan 1 yd run (kick blocked) 8:06 (0-9)
M - FG Coons 44 yds 2:32 (0-12)
R - Foster 17 yd pass from Livingston (Feer kick) 12:25 (7-12)
R - Austin 1 yd run (Feer kick) 8:46 (14-12)
M - Agwuenu 60 yd pass from Deen (Coons kick) 4:36 (14-19)
R - Foster 90 yd pass from Livingston (J.Greenwalt pass from Livingston) 12:01 (22-19)
R - Schexnayder 5 yd run (Feer kick) 11:01 (29-19)
M - Botello 32 yd pass from Deen (Coons kick) 1:19 (29-26)
First Downs: Riverside 15 (5 rush, 9 pass, 1 penalty), Mt. SAC 15 (1 rush, 10 pass, 4 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Riverside 39-98, Mt. SAC 35-56
Passing Yds: Riverside 247, Mt. SAC 266
Comp-Att-Int: Riverside 16-36-1, Mt. SAC 16-38-3
Return Yds: Riverside 116, Mt. SAC 104
Sacks-Yds: Riverside 3-26, Mt. SAC 1-7
Fumbles-Lost: Riverside 2-0, Mt. SAC 1-0
Penalties-Yds: Riverside 6-85, Mt. SAC 14-124
Time of Possession: Riverside 30:00, Mt. SAC 30:00
Rushing: R 8-Schexnayder 17-66, 25-Hunt 10-31, 27-Jackson 3-12, 33-Austin 2-3, 3-D.Robinson 3-3, 2-Livingston 2-(-14), team 2-(-3); M 32-Botello 17-56, 14-Martin 3-9, 20-Bobo 5-7, 34-Larmie 2-4, 8-Viramontes 1-1, 41-Scanlan 1-1, 11-Deen 6-(-22)
Passing: R 2-Livingston 16-36-2-247, 2 TDs; M 11-Deen 16-38-3-266, 2 TDs
Receiving: R 4-J.Greenwalt 5-51, 5-Foster 4-136, 1-Will 3-23, 9-Waller 2-11, 84-Mays 1-19, 8-Schexnayder 1-7; M 6-Duncan 4-60, 1-Agwuenu 3-77, 32-Botello 2-61, 3-Lomu 2-14, 18-Dotson 1-15, 10-Tillman 1-13, 16-Gage 1-1, 8-Viramontes 1-9, 20-Bobo 1-5
Interceptions-Ret Yds: R 21-Jones 2-25, 26-Gonzalez 1-20; M 45-Thorpe 1-22
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: none
Sacks: R 95-Rayside 2-16, 50-Fusi 1-10; M 43-Gener 1-7
Punters: R 19-Guzman 9-32.3 avg; M 49-Colby 8-38.5 avg
Kick Returns: R 5-Foster 3-68; M 3-Lomu 3-60, 16-Gage 1-24
Punt Returns: R 5-Foster 4-3; M 3-Lomu 1-(-2)
Missed FG: R 11-Feer 34 yds (wide left); M none
Notes: Showdown! This was the most-anticipated JC football game in SoCal in recent memory and drew a crowd of over 4000 (SRO). Mt. SAC entered 3-0, ranked #1 in the South (CCCAA), #2 in the nation (JC Grid-Wire), the 2-time defending state & national champions and with a 26-game win streak. Riverside entered 2-0, ranked #6 in the South, #6 in the nation and with a 10-game win streak, having last lost at Mt. SAC last season. Torres' field goal bounced off the crossbar and over. Scanlan's TD came after Thorpe's interception & return; the interception came on a pass that was tipped at the line. 10-Lackey blocked the XPA for Riverside. RCC had just 33 yards of offense in the 1st quarter but then went on its 1st TD drive on which the Tigers converted 4 third-downs. The 90-yard reception by Foster from Livingston is a new Riverside school record. Schexnayder's TD came after Jones' 1st interception, which he returned to the Mt. SAC 8. This is the 1st time Riverside has beaten Mt. SAC since 2001 (6 losses) and only the 2nd time since 1990 (1-15 since 1990 before tonight).