It was truly a day for JC football royalty as the two programs that have dominated the scene for the last 18 years squared off on the historic field that is scheduled for massive renovation this spring. Amazingly, in the 18 seasons since the state championship game was established in 1997 there have been more such games that featured both schools (5) than there have been that didn’t include either one (2).
Saturday, Mt. SAC (11-2) was far from perfect, but it was a true team effort as the Mounties found a way to get the job done. Alo managed the game well, and scored two touchdowns, though his fumble allowed San Francisco (11-2) to score its final touchdown. Derrick Macon was Mt. SAC’s Player of the Game, with 4 catches for 130 yards, though all of that came in the first half. And Aaren Vaughns muffed his first punt return, but turned in the play of the day with a spectacular 84-yard touchdown return on his next punt return.
Mt. SAC seemed a bit overanxious early on, committing a false start penalty prior to its first play from scrimmage, and three plays later the Mounties punted. CCSF also punted after three plays, but Christopher Tilbey’s kick rolled dead at the Mountie 3. On the next play Alo and Omaris Tolbert missed connections on a handoff, and Tavita Faaiu recovered the fumble for CCSF at the Mt. SAC 3. That led to a short field goal by Cristian Antezana, giving CCSF a 3-0 lead just 4:39 into the game.
Tolbert set the tone for the day for Mt. SAC, atoning for the missed handoff with a 28-yard run that set up a field goal for the Mounties to tie the score 3-3. But then Gilchrist dropped what would have been a sure touchdown pass from Alo after getting behind the CCSF defense. On Mt. SAC’s next drive Jastrab tried to jump-start his team by calling for a fake punt on 4th and 4, but Chris Solomon was stopped well short of the first down, giving CCSF the ball at its own 45.
That led to a short drive that would give CCSF a 10-3 lead. Quarterback Jeremiah Peralta, starting in place of injured Anthony Rodriguez, completed a 23-yard pass to Maurice McSwain to get the Rams close, and carried the ball the final yard on a keeper with 10:43 left in the first half.
Less than a minute later, Derrick Macon hauled in Alo’s long pass for a 56-yard play that got the Mounties to the Ram 6 yard-line. Then on the next play Alo scored on a keeper to tie the score 10-10, and the Mounties would never trail again.
Late in the first half, CCSF drove well into Mt. SAC territory, reaching the Mountie 23 yard-line. But then a Peralta pass was intercepted by Tyquwan Glass, who returned the ball to the Mt. SAC 45 yard-line. That led to a second short field goal by Alberto Reyes-Villarreal, which gave the Mounties a 13-10 lead at the half.
CCSF got the ball to start the second half, and it started well when Thomas Buntenbah returned the kickoff to the 41. The Rams reached Mt. SAC territory before a chop-block penalty pushed them back, forcing a punt. Aaren Vaughns, who had fumbled on a punt return attempt in the first half, caught the kick and this time turned in a spectacular 84-yard punt return, racing up the left sideline. Near midfield he waited for one last block and then sped down the field, expanding Mt. SAC’s lead to 20-10.
After another CCSF punt, Mt. SAC had a chance to take complete control of the game, driving to the Ram 1 yard-line after a 49-yard pass from Gilchrist, who again got behind the defense, and made a nice catch. But on 3rd and goal from the 1, Alo tried to reach the ball over the pile and lost control of it. CCSF’s Faaiu again recovered the fumble, and this time started running with it. Starting from his own end zone he carried it the length of the field for a shocking 100-yard touchdown return, silencing the home side of the field that was expecting Mt. SAC to score but instead saw the Mounties’ lead to just three points at 20-17.
But Alo and the Mounties shook off that play, and drove for a touchdown on its next possession to restore the 10-point margin. Vaughns returned the kickoff to the CCSF 48 – the Rams had been penalized for excessive celebration on Faaiu’s touchdown run – and eight plays later the Mounties had the ball at the CCSF 4. On the next play Alo kept the ball, holding onto it tightly as he carried it the final 4 yards for his second touchdown of the game. That made it 27-17 with 3:24 left in the third quarter.
And neither team scored again. CCSF drove to the Mt. SAC 16 early in the fourth quarter, but its drive ended on one play when the ball was snapped while Peralta was still giving instructions to his backs. The ball rolled into the Ram backfield. Peralta made the recovery, but he and a Mt. SAC player collided helmet-to-helmet as they went for the ball, and Peralta had to be helped off the field. Third-string QB Ricky Te’o entered in the unenviable position of facing the Mt. SAC defense cold on 2nd and 27, and three plays later CCSF had to punt.
Peralta re-entered the game for the next CCSF drive, and got the Rams to midfield. But on the next play he absorbed an absolutely pulverizing (and legal) hit from Anuanu Poleo, Mt. SAC’s 285-pound defensive tackle, and that ended his day. Te’o threw two incomplete passes, CCSF was called for holding and the Rams punted. CCSF had once last chance with 3:27 left but that ended when Teo’s final pass of the day was intercepted by Joseph Bryant with 1:11 left, setting off the Mt. SAC celebration.
Alo completed 18 of 33 passes for 293 yards, and also rushed 17 times for 46 yards (12 times for 62 yards if sacks are subtracted out) and 2 touchdowns. Macon led all receivers with his 130 yards, which came on 4 catches. Gilchrist led all receivers with 6 catches, good for 93 yards. Tolbert had a game-high 68 yards rushing on 14 carries. Poleo had 2 of Mt. SAC’s 4 quarterback sacks, and Bryant had 2 of Mt. SAC’s 3 interceptions. Vaughns had the key play of the game with his punt return. It was a true team effort.
For CCSF, Peralta completed 15 of 28 passes for 181 yards, He also rushed 15 times for 48 yards (11 for 60 not counting the sacks), an admirable performance against a most formidable Mt. SAC defense. Faaiu had the two fumble recoveries, one of which set up a field goal and the other of which he returned for a score. CCSF defensive back Shalom Luani was named the Rams’ Player of the Game.
The win is Mt. SAC’s 4th in the state championship game, an event that was established in 1997 and featured, fittingly enough, Mt. SAC and CCSF. The two programs have now met 5 times in this event, with the Mounties taking a 3-2 all-time edge. And though the Rams came away second-best on this day, their record of 14 appearances in the 18-game history of this event is one of the most amazing marks in all of sports. CCSF has won 7 state championships in the remarkable 38-year tenure of head coach George Rush.
Mt. San Antonio Mounties 27
City College of San Francisco Rams 17
Saturday, December 13, 2014 –1 pm – Hilmer Lodge Stadium, Walnut
California State Championship Game
SF – FG Antezana 23 yds 10:21 (0-3)
M – FG Reyes-Villarreal 26 yds 6:59 (3-3)
SF – Peralta 1 yd run (Vaquiz kick) 10:43 (3-10)
M – Alo 6 yd run (Reyes-Villarreal kick) 9:21 (10-10)
M – FG Reyes-Villarreal 22 yds 3:30 (13-10)
M – Vaughns 84 yd punt return (Reyes-Villarreal kick) 11:01 (20-10)
SF – Faaiu 100 yd fumble return (Vaquiz kick) 5:58 (20-17)
M – Alo 4 yd run (Reyes-Villarreal kick) 3:24 (27-17)
First Downs: Mt. SAC 17 (6 rush, 9 pass, 2 penalty), CCSF 14 (7 rush, 7 pass)
Rushes-Yds: Mt. SAC 42-103, CCSF 36-96
Passing Yds: Mt. SAC 293, CCSF 181
Comp-Att-Int: Mt. SAC 18-33-0, CCSF 15-31-3
Return Yds: Mt. SAC 178, CCSF 242
Sacks-Yds: Mt. SAC 4-12, CCSF 5-16
Fumbles-Lost: Mt. SAC 5-2, CCSF 3-1
Penalties-Yds: Mt. SAC 5-23, CCSF 10-90
Time of Possession: Mt. SAC 28:46, CCSF 31:14
Rushing: M 28-Tolbert 14-68, 5-Alo 17-46, 15-Gates 2-10, 48-Wilson 2-1, 20-Solomon 1-1, 22-Vaughns 3-(-4), 4-Simpson 1-(-17), team 2-(-2); SF 14-Peralta 15-48, 32-Dale 11-31, 27-Tribble 5-23, 5-Hayes 4-11, team 1-(-17)
Passing: M 5-Alo 18-33-0-293; SF 14-Peralta 15-28-2-181, 8-Te’o 0-3-1-0
Receiving: M 6-Gilchrist 6-93, 1-Macon 4-130, 11-Anderson 2-30, 28-Tolbert 2-14, 4-Simpson 2-10, 18-Short 1-10, 83-Hill 1-6; SF 17-Porter 4-70, 32-Dale 4-33, 18-Hikutini 3-4, 13-McSwain 2-42, 3-Lawson 1-27, 5-Hayes 1-5
Interceptions-Ret Yds: M 9-Bryant 2-0, 2-Glass 1-26
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: M 60-Kohitolu 1-0; SF 45-Faaiu 2-100
Sacks-Yds: M 92-Poleo 2-9, 94-Aluesi 1-2, 60-Kohitolu 1-1; SF 11-Mitchell 2-6, 45-Faaiu 2-6, 29-Johnson 1-4
Punters: M 61-Fulham 6-41.7 avg; SF 88-Tilbey 41.4 avg
Kick Returns: M 22-Vaughns 4-73; SF 82-Jones 3-76, 4-Buntenbah 2-62, 37-Whitfield-Stokes 1-4
Punt Returns: M 22-Vaughns 3-73, 4-Simpson 1-6; SF 7-Boyd 1-0
Missed FG: none
Notes: Both teams finish 11-2. MVP: Justin Alo, Mt. SAC. Players of the Game: Derrick Macon (Mt. SAC) and DB Shalom Luani (CCSF). 4th California state championship for Mt. SAC, 3rd since 2009. This was CCSF’s 14th appearance in a state championship game, of which there have been 18. Peralta started at QB for CCSF in place of injured Anthony Rodriguez. CCSF’s FG came after Faaiu recovered a fumble at the Mountie 4. Mt. SAC’s 2nd TD came after Glass’ interception. Alo fumbled as he tried to reach the ball over the goal line, lost control, and Faaiu returned it the distance for CCSF’s last TD. CCSF reached the Mountie 16 early in 4th but a premature snap lost 17 yds. CCSF never got that close to scoring again. Peralta left after a big hit by Poleo. Te’o’s last pass was intercepted by Bryant with 1:42 left.