Reedley Wins Championship Game & #1 Ranking

Robert Johnson ran for 2 TDs and threw for another to lead Reedley to their first-ever California State Championship as well as the JC Grid-Wire National Championship in a 35-15 win over College of the Canyons December 14th at Bakersfield. Johnson broke open a close game with a pair of big plays in the 4th quarter, both of which ended in Reedley touchdowns.

The win gives Reedley a perfect 12-0 record and keeps the State championship trophy in Northern California for the 4th straight season, the first time that has occured since 1978-81.

Johnson finished with 231 yards passing on 15 of 26 plus 79 yards rushing (110 not counting sacks) to claim MVP honors.  WR Bryant Stewart caught 7 passes for 137 yards, including a 48-yard reception from Johnson that put Reedley firmly in control of the game, and was named Offensive Player of the Game.  DT Donyell Booker, who anchored a defense that held Canyons nearly 40 points under their season average, was named Defensive Player of the Game.  And DB Lionell Green made several impact plays including blocking a punt and returning it for a TD.

Reedley held an 18-15 lead entering the 4th quarter, but a spectacular 27-yard TD run by Johnson extended the Tigers' lead to 25-15.  After COC's Eddie Robinson was stopped 3 yards short of a first down on a fake punt attempt, Reedley clinched the win on Johnson's 48-yard pass to Stewart down the right sideline.  Marc Reddy later added a field goal in the closing minutes as Reedley outscored Canyons 17-0 in the 4th quarter.

The game began with an exchange of 3-and-outs, the first indication that the Reedley defense was going to be a formidable obstacle for Canyons.  And COC made the game's first mistake on their first punt when the snap nearly sailed over punter Josh Cummings' head.  Cummings made the catch, rolled to the right and got the kick away, but the play netted just 7 yards and gave Reedley the ball at the COC 34.  The Tigers took the lead moments later on a 12-yard TD run by Tyree King.  Lex Maka blocked the XPA, leaving the score 6-0 in favor of Reedley.

On their next possession, the Cougars were again forced to punt, but this time it was Reedley's turn for a mistake when Jerrand Nesmith fumbled the ball after a short return.  COC's Mavery David recovered the ball at the Reedley 40. 

But that threat ended one play later.  Bauer launched a long pass intended for Tyrell Smith that was tipped away at the goal line by Reedley's Lionell Green.  The ball landed in the hands of Reedley's Andre Williams.  That would be the first impact play by Green, but it certainly wouldn't be the last one.

As that drive stalled, however, Reedley faced a 4th and long and lined up to punt.  But the snap instead went to up-man Anthony Moody, who tried to run for the first down but was stopped well short.  COC took over at the Reedley 44.

COC seemed to be driving for the potential tying or go-ahead score, but then Lionell Green made another big play for Reedley, intercepting a Bauer pass and returning it 20 yards to the Tiger 27.

Two plays later, Reedley led 12-0, thanks largely to Robert Johnson.  The first was a 34-yard pass from Johnson to Bryant Stewart.  Then came a 39-yard TD run on a QB draw.  COC's Lex Maka blocked the XPA – his second blocked PAT of the game – to keep the score 12-0.

COC finally got on the board midway through the second quarter following a Reedley turnover.  King's fumble was recovered by Eddie Robinson, who returned it 2 yards to the Reedley 15.  But even this time COC had trouble getting on the board.  The score finally came when a Bauer pass bounced off the hands of Efren Lopez and across the goal line, where Tyrell Smith made a nice grab of the ball in the end zone.  Jason Tompkins' extra point closed the gap to 12-7.

Reedley drove into COC territory on their next drive, but lost the ball on downs.  Facing a 4th and 3, Johnson threw to Stewart but the ball was marked about an inch short of the first down, turning the ball over to the Cougars.  But then the Reedley defense held, which was a recurrent theme all afternoon, forcing another COC punt.

And that's when Lionell Green made another big play.  Bursting in from the left side of the line, Green blocked Cummings' punt, sending the ball towards the goal line.  After the ball rolled through several players' hands, grabbed the rolling ball at the 2 yard-line and carried it into the end zone for the score.  After a personal foul penalty on the Tigers after the scoring play, Marc Reddy's 35-yard XPA sailed wide, but now Reedley led 18-7.

COC had one last chance to score before halftime.  On the strength of a pair of Bauer completions to Trevor Brackett, the Cougars drove to the Reedley 20.  With 11 seconds left before intermission, Josh Cummings came on to attempt a 37-yard field goal that would have made it a one-score game.  But in came Lionell Green – again – to block the kick.  So the score remained 18-7 at the break.

After an exchange of punts to begin the second half, the Cougars closed the margin to 3 on a 12-yard pass from Bauer to Brian Miller midway through the third quarter.  The drive, COC's only extended drive of the game, was highlighted by a 9-yard pass to J.J. Arrington followed by a 21-yard run by Arrington.  COC went for the 2-point conversion, and Bauer found Jason Hogan in the corner of the end zone to make it 18-15 with 6:58 left in the third quarter.

Then things got a little strange.  On Reedley's next possession, Johnson rolled towards the right sideline and threw the ball towards midfield.  The whistle blew, inadvertently, just as COC's Charles Mangio caught the ball.  After some deliberation by the officials, the ball was awarded to COC at the point of the interception, the Cougar 43.  But any chance of a return was lost when the whistle blew.  And when the COC offense was unable to move the ball, and the drive ended with a punt, giving the ball back to the Tigers.

And it got strange again at the end of Reedley's next possession.  After getting the ball across midfield, Reedley faced 4th down and lined up to punt.  The snap, however, was low and punter Greg Huffman was tackled for a loss after picking up the ball.  But as the ball rolled around in the Reedley backfield, another inadvertent whistle blew.  After some deliberation by the officials (again), it was announced that there had been an illegal substitution penalty against the Cougars, but it was now disregarded, and that the play didn't count.  On the replay, Huffman boomed his punt some 46 yards and into the end zone.

Still, COC trailed by just 3 points and just over a minute remained in the third quarter.  But the Reedley defense held yet again, forcing another COC punt.  That gave the ball back to Reedley as the fourth quarter began, a quarter that would belong exclusively to the Tigers and Johnson.

After Johnson's 27-yard TD run that made it 25-15, COC drove to midfield before facing a fourth down.  The Cougars tried a fake punt with punter Cummings throwing the ball to Eddie Robinson, but he was stopped short of the first down.  Moments later, Johnson hit Stewart with the long pass that sealed the victory and the championships for Reedley.

A 29-yard field goal by Reedley's Marc Reddy with 2:37 closed out the scoring.  That followed an interception by Justin Johnson, Reedley's 3rd interception of the game.

For Reedley, Johnson led the way offensively, but equally impressive was the Tiger defense.  DT Donyell Booker anchored the line, but DE Marquis Jones registered a pair of sacks and LB R.J. Pullings and DE Doug Langenfeld were standouts for Reedley. 

And then there was Lionell Green.  He deflected a pass that became an interception, made an interception of his own, blocked a field goal attempt and also blocked a punt, which he eventually picked up and carried in for the TD.   And he helped hold COC's standout WR Tyrell Smith to just 57 yards receiving on the afternoon.

For the Cougars, who were making their first-ever appearance in the State Championship game, it was by far their lowest offensive output of the season.  The only previous time they were held under 42 pts all season was in a 39-32 loss to Cerritos.  And they generated just 270 yards of offense, including a net of only 30 yards on the ground. 

Kyle Bauer, voted the state's offensive MVP earlier in the week, finished 24 of 49 passing for 233 yards and 2 TDs plus 3 INTs.  J.J. Arrington rushed for 63 yards on 16 carries.  Tyrell Smith had 6 catches for 57 yards while TE Brian Miller grabbed 6 passes for 41 yards; each scored a TD.  WR Trevor Brackett had 5 catches for 72 yards.

Saturday, December 14, 2002 - 1 p.m.
at Memorial Stadium, Bakersfield, CA

The California Community College State Championship

Reedley College  (Tigers)  35
College of the Canyons (Cougars)  15

1st Quarter:

R – King 12 yard run (kick blocked by Maka) 9:33 -- 6-0

2nd Quarter:

R – R.Johnson 39 yard run (kick blocked by Maka) 14:17 -- 12-0
C – T. Smth 10 yard pass from Bauer (Tompkins kick) 9:06 -- 12-7
R – Green 2 yard ret of blocked punt (kick wide left) 3:55 -- 18-7

3rd Quarter:

C – Miller 12 yard pass from Bauer (Hogan pass from Bauer) 6:58 -- 18-15

4th Quarter:

R – R.Johnson 27 yard run (Reddy kick) 12:31 -- 25-15
R – Stewart 48 yard pass from R. Johnson (Reddy kick) 8:23 -- 32-15
R – FG Reddy 29 yards 2:37 -- 35-15

Team Statistics: Canyons Reedley
First Downs 19 (13 pass; 4 run; 2 pen) 18 (10 pass; 8 run)
Rushes – Yards 25-30 40-205
Passing Yards 240 231
Comp - Att – Int 25-52-3 15-26-1
Return Yards 73 90
Sacks – Yards 6-37 5-47
Fumbles - Lost 1-0 3-2
Penalties – Yards 3-16 9-75
Time of Possession 33:49 26:11

Individual Statistics:


C:  30-J.Arrington 16-63, 10-Bauer 9-(-33)
R:  19-R.Johnson 14-79, 25-Dixon 5-49, 4-Nesmith 3-33, 2-King 10-26, 26-Moody 1-9, 34-Butler 2-8, 42-Curry 1-3, 11-Denton 2-3, team 2-(-5)


C:  10-K.Bauer 24-49-3-233, 2 TDs; 20-Cummings 1-1-0-7; 3-Brackett 0-1-0-0; 19-Boyle 0-1-0-0
R:  19-R.Johnson 15-26-1-231, 1 TD


C:  7-T.Smith 6-58, 4-B.Miller 6-41, 3-Brackett 5-72, 8-Lopez 3-45, 30-Arrington 2-11, 33-Hogan 2-6, 15-E.Robinson 1-7
R:  8-Stewart 7-137, 4-Nesmith 2-50, 80-Fleurinord 2-20, 12-Mitchell 2-13, 11-Denton 2-11


C:  20-Cummings 7-37.0 avg + 1 blk      
R:  79-Huffman 3-44.3 avg

Kick Ret:

C:  19-Boyle 2-34, 24-M.Williams3-31
R:  2-King 1-14

Punt Ret:

C:  5-Perry 2-1           
R:  4-Nesmith 2-21, 2-King 1-19, 82-Slay 1-(-5)

Int-Ret Yards:

C:  17-Mangio 1-2
R:  1-Green 1-20, 35-J.Johnson 1-13, 40-Williams 1-8


C 6:  15-Robinson 1-6, 57-Ramirez 1-6, 44-Ellis 1-5, 74-Tuimalealiif 1-5, 32-Lloyard 1-4, team 1-8
R 5:  43-M.Jones 2-19, 51-Green 1-14, 5-Langenfield 1-8, 52-Crosby 1-5

Missed FG:

C:  22-Tompkins 37 yards (blk by L.Green)

Fumble Rec:

C 2:  9-David, 15-E.Robinson


Att-3139. Temperature 62 degrees.  Cloudy and cool.  No rain.  Time-3:25.

Reedley finishes 12-0 – Official California State Champions and mythical National Champions (JC Grid-Wire). Canyons finishes 10-2 - SoCal champs.  MVP:  19-Robert Johnson.  Defense Player of the Game:  54-Donyell Booker (DT). Offense:  8-Bryant Stewart (all from Reedley).

A bad snap on COC's 1st punt resulted in a 7-yard kick, giving Reedley the ball at the 34.  The 1st Reedley TD soon followed.  Reedley's 2nd TD came 2 plays after Green's INT.  COC's 1st TD was a little lucky – the ball bounced off Lopez' hands and across the goal line where Smith made a nice grab.  Green blocked and recovered the blocked punt, returning it for Reedley's 3rd TD.  He also blocked the FGA.  47-Maka blocked the 2 blocked XPAs.  Each team tried a fake punt, and neither was successful.  This was the 2nd time all season COC has been held under 42 points, the other being their other loss (39-32 at Cerritos 9/14).  COC entered averaging 54 points per game.  This is Reedley's first-ever California Championship, and they were 4-6 in 2001.

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