Bakersfield Knocks Off Defending Champs

At Bakersfield Memorial Stadium, the BC Renegades used a stifling defense and quick strike offense to hold off Grossmont, 13-6. It was pretty much taken for granted entering this SoCal semi-final that the Gades would need the 'big play' in order to score against the state's #1 defense.

The real question was how the BC defense was going to do against a hot Griffin offense that has averaged 54.7 points a game in its last three contests. The Gade defense bent very little in the first half, and gave up only two field goals. But in the second half, Bakersfield completely stuffed the Griff offense, holding them to 18 total yards and 1 first down. Bakersfield owned the clock in the second half by a margin of two to one; playing conservatively with the lead after two long TD passes to Brandon Banks and T.J. Lee (PHOTO ABOVE LEFT). The game was an epic defensive battle, where the offensive speed of the Gades was the difference in a 13-6 victory that sends them into the SoCal Championship against an old rival, the El Camino Warriors.

1st half

The old cliché about two heavyweights feeling each other out could not be a more appropriate description of this game. The Renegades did not want to get a big return out of the Grossmont deep men, so they opened the game with a pooch kick that Sean Tuifo fielded and plowed down to the 42 yard line. This figured to be a game where field position was everything, and the Gades were already behind in that battle on the opening play.

Early on, Griffin QB John Soli, a freshman out of Indiana, proved to be an elusive target for the Bakersfield linemen to get to.  It also looked like Grossmont might have some success on the ground behind Kevin Smith and Reggie Ross. Soli threw a quick out to Brandon Bryan that two Renegades just missed picking off, but Bryan snagged it and hugged the sideline all the way to the BC five yard line. But the Renegade defense held them to a 21 yard field goal and a 3-0 Griffin lead.

Brandon Banks took the kickoff all the way out to the 33 yard line, and the Griffs were guilty of their first personal foul, putting BC near midfield. But the Griffins were not the #1 rated defense in the state for nothing; both teams were having a punting contest. A 68 yard punt pinned Bakersfield back to their 9 yard line, and QB Cody Stone airmailed one deep down the right sideline to Banks, who took it the 89 yards to pay dirt and a 6-3 Gade lead. The extra point was blocked.

On their next possession, the Renegades started to move the ball past midfield, but a Stone pass was batted and intercepted. The Gades quickly returned the favor by pouncing on a fumble, and an extra 15 was tacked on when Justin Johnson hit a Renegade in the back after the whistle had blown. BC was in easy field goal range, and Stone tried to fire into the end zone, but Abraham Mubeize jumped the route and returned it all the way to the 41 yard line. Some nice runs by Soli picked up a couple of first downs, the last one getting him just out of bounds at the three with three seconds left. Ballman knotted the game up with a 20 yard field goal.

2nd Half

The Renegades surprised every one in the house when they lifted Stone for former 3rd string Freshman QB Dustin Powell. On a 4th and a yard to go, BC lined up for a punt, but FB Patrick Patterson took the snap and got the first down. Powell must have still been thinking about being in the game, and was dropped for a 14 yard loss when he lost the handle on the ball. But he seemed to shake that off and hit Banks for a 20 yard screen down to the Griffin 43. After J.R. Rogers picked up the first, Powell hit T.J. Lee over the middle and he juked his way past three defenders for a 40 yard score, giving the Gades a 13-6 lead.

Another pooch kick resulted in Tuiofu bulling his way past midfield. But from this point on, the Renegade defense completely shut down the Griffs. BC used a ground game to get into Griffin territory, but Powell was the next victim of an interception by the talented G-House secondary.

The Gades continued to be a brick wall on defense, and when they got the ball back, a Grossmont D-Back held Banks for a 15 yard penalty. It was actually a smart play because Banks put a move on him that would have led to a TD. Powell then went to Lee again, and he moved it down to the Grossmont 32. The Griffin D pushed the Gades back once more, and on a 4th and 29, another untimely penalty, this time a roughing the punter, gave the Gades a 1st down. J.R. Rogers then took an 18 yard middle screen all the way to the Grossmont 18 yard line.

But the Gades lost their chance for a two score lead when a 26 yard field goal sailed wide. The Griffins were still in position to tie the game. However, it was not to be as the relentless Red Wave kept pouring into the Griffin backfield, and the Renegades pounded the ball and kept the pigskin away on their way to a hard earned second round victory over a tough Griffin team.

Summary

A defensive battle deserving of a playoff game, the difference between these two teams was the outside speed of the Renegades. Grossmont completely shut down RB J.R. Rogers, holding the speed demon to only 30 yards on 19 carries. But the ground game was not completely stifled as Freshman FB Patrick Patterson was able to gain 84 yards on 11 carries. With Arizona State recruit Terry Mixon out, the Grossmont secondary could not keep up with the Renegade speed at outside receiver. It's hard to double up on T.J. Lee when you have Attrail Snipes and Brandon Banks to contend with. All three are in the 4.4 range for the 40.

But it was the play of the Renegade defense, who have progressively improved each week, which really killed the Griffs. Amazingly, Bakersfield had the ball over 13 minutes and 20 seconds of the 15 minute fourth quarter. Instead of going for the throat, Bakersfield Head Coach Jeff Chudy opted to play it close to the vest on offense, and let his defense do its thing. "I'm sure there are plenty of people who didn't think we'd be in this position after the second game of the season. I told my players that to be the best, you have to beat the best, and Grossmont is the defending State Champ."

Chudy, who is known for his conservatism, shocked many Renegade fans when he inserted Powell in at QB. He has taken very few snaps and started out the season as the #3 QB before Daniel Hoff quit the team. It was a monumental task for a kid who had thrown only 8 passes all year, to be thrown to the lions, or in this case, even worse, to the Griffins. He came through with flying colors. The Warriors will have to practice for two QBs in the SoCal final.

For Grossmont, another great season and playoff run. This year's edition did not quite have the offensive explosiveness of teams past, but J.R. Rogers was quoted as saying they were by far the quickest defense he had seen. "Man they were fast, I kept planting to the side I wanted to go, but they were right there. But that opened up the pass."

John Soli was only 4/18 for 51 yards in the game, but many of his incompletions were passes thrown out of bounds to avoid the sack. The Griffin Offensive Line used Denver Bronco style blocking to take the feet away from would be sackers early, but that strategy was not enough in the second half. The Griffins have many returnees next season and will no doubt be right back in post season play. The Renegades are also chock full of freshman, and will have about 16 starters back. It will be no surprise if both teams meet again in post season play next year. Rest assured, the Griffins are already plotting their revenge.

Stats

BC          Grossmont

Rushing     95           102
Passing    219          51
Total yards  314          153
1st downs   15              9
Turnovers    3             2
Penalties    8/50       8/105
Possession time  35:57     24:03

Scoring Summary

1st Qtr

Grossmont -21 yd FG - Ballman - 2:54 - 3-0

2nd Qtr

BC - 89 yard pass - Stone to Banks - kick failed - 12:15 - 6-3
Grossmont - 20 yard FG - Ballman - 0:00 - 6-6 

3rd Qtr - 40 yd pass - Powell to Lee - 10:10 - 13-6

4th Qtr - no scoring

 


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