There was much talk about the first football game of the season between the Cerritos College Falcons and the Bakersfield Renegades. Both teams were ranked high in several pre-season state and national polls, and it marked the beginning of non-conference play for both teams. Over the past several years, coaches and experts wondered how teams would fare against opponents from outside their own conference.
The Falcons and Renegades have been two of the more successful programs in Southern California, and they did not disappoint the more than 4,000 fans that came out to see the game. With the Falcons clinging to a 21-19 lead, Bakersfield attempted to take the lead with a 37-yard field goal with 1:20 left in the game. But Falcon sophomore linebacker Philip Perry (Lakewood) busted through the middle and blocked Preston Wahl's attempt, helping Cerritos to the win.
This week, the Falcons will travel to Valencia to face College of the Canyons for the first time in school history. The Cougars are coming off a 27-3 loss to Mission Conference member Santa Ana.
After the first quarter of their highly-anticipated game, the Falcons appeared to be headed for a long evening. Bakersfield, the #1 rated team in Southern California held a 7-0 lead and outgained the Falcons, 177-7 in total offense. But the Falcon defense held strong a recovered a Renegade fumble at their own five-yard line on the first play of the second quarter to thwart another scoring opportunity for Bakersfield.
The Falcons then took advantage of a botched punt attempt and needed just four plays to go 60 yards for a touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Mike Harrison, (Mayfair, University of Hawaii) connected with sophomore wide receiver Chris Chatman (Tustin) from 38 yards out with 11:15 left in the second quarter. The sensational one-handed catch by Chatman was set up by a 21-yard pass to freshman running back Josh Herrera (La Habra) on a screen pass. Freshman kicker Adam Sonntag's (Long Beach Millikan) extra point was wide left and the Falcons trailed, 7-6.
In the first quarter, the Falcon defense was fooled by the play of option quarterback Kevin Bryan, who rushed for 58 yards. Things changed in the second quarter, as the Falcon defense stiffened and the Renegades tried to find success through the air. Sophomores Chris Eagen (Pacifica) and Joe Oniwar (Bellflower), along with freshmen Loata Toliniu (Farrington, HI) and Alex Loza (Gahr) did a solid job of plugging up holes. In addition, the linebacking quartet of Perry, John Lopez (St. John Bosco), Rajaee Barnett (Downey) and Marcus Miller (Artesia) helped keep the Renegade backs contained before they could get to the outside.
After the teams traded possessions, Harrison found his favorite target, Chapman, from 37 yards out and Cerritos took a 12-7 lead with 2:00 left in the first half. Cerritos went for a two-point conversion, but freshman wide receiver Andrew Harris (Long Beach Poly) dropped the pass in the back of the end zone.
Despite the lopsided yard differential, Cerritos continued to control the scoreboard, as increased their lead to 18-7 when Harrison scrambled from nine yards out for a touchdown. The Falcons took advantage of a Bakersfield fumble, as Bryan pitched the ball poorly and Falcon freshman defensive end Armando Calderon (Cerritos) recovered the ball at the Renegade 15-yard line.
However, in the fourth quarter, it was Bakersfield's turn to take advantage of two Falcon mistakes. On third-and-21 at the Cerritos 47-yard line, the Falcons were called for pass interference, which gave the Renegades first down and new life. Sophomore Robert Thomas scampered into the end zone from 16 yards out four plays after the penalty, trimming the Cerritos lead to 18-13 with 11:49 left in the game.
On the first play after the touchdown, Harrison fumbled the ball, and James McGill scooped it up and went in for a 30-yard touchdown, catapulting Bakersfield to a 19-18 lead. However, on the play, the Renegades were called for two personal fouls, forcing them to go for two points. One penalty was assessed on the extra point and one on the kickoff.
After the teams traded possessions, the Falcons proceeded to embark on an eight play 54-yard scoring drive that was culminated with a 36-yard field goal by Sonntag, which turned out to be the winning points. Bakersfield did get their field goal attempt, but Perry broke through the middle for the block and a Falcon win.
Herrera led the Falcons on the ground with 62 yards on 13 carries, while freshman Jermaine Whiten (Cerritos) added 22 yards. On the night, Cerritos was limited to just 74 rushing yards, while Harrison completed 8-of-23 passes for 124 yards and two scores. Herrera led all receivers with four catches for 35 yards. Bakersfield outgained the Falcons, 303-198 on the night.
Scoring: BAK: Sammy Moore 55yd pass from Kevin Bryan (Preston Wahl kick)
CERR: Chris Chatman 38yd pass from Mike Harrison (kick failed)
CERR: Chris Chatman 37yd pass from Mike Harrison (Pass failed)
CERR: Mike Harrison 9yd run (Kick blocked)
BAK: Robert Thomas 16yd run (Run failed)
BCC: James McGill 30yd fumble return (Run failed)
CERR: Adam Sonntag 36yd FG
Attendance: 4,000 Weather: Cool & Comfortable