The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
This was no ordinary win.
Leading up to the 2013 version of the College of San Mateo versus City College of San Francisco rivalry, all the talk coming out of the CSM locker room was that Saturday’s matchup with the Rams did not mean any more than any other game on the schedule.
But the celebration on the field following CSM’s 30-25 win told a different story. It is the Bulldogs’ first over the nemesis since 2009. And amongst hugs, smiles, pictures and hakas, it felt like every Bulldog was walking on air.
Ordinary wins don’t feel this good.
“It’s just as big as any other win, just to be honest with you,” said CSM defensive lineman Rika Levi. “But I’m not going to lie, we do have a grudge against City. That’s our rival so there’s always going to be a lot of tension, it’s always going to be a good game. So, it’s a big spiritual victory.”
“Everyone wanted to come in and beat City,” said CSM quarterback Casey Wichman. “Everyone, no matter what team it is, they want to beat City. And that’s the mentality that we had today. And our coaches did a really good job of keeping us composed so it wasn’t just City Week, it was Week 7 and if we came out doing what we’ve been doing, we’d come up with an outcome like today.”
“No question that it feels good,” said CSM assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Tim Tulloch. “The kids played with great effort, great intensity. We knew it was going to be a very, very tough game. San Francisco is a very good team. They are who they are because of what they do. And our kids matched them play for play, drive for drive for 60 minutes. There was a whole lot of adversity and they stepped up and faced it — couldn’t be more proud the guys.”
CSM set the tone from the onset and despite a couple of runs by CCSF, they were able to hold off a very potent Rams team.
It was a pretty emphatic first 15 minutes and change for the Bulldogs though.
After the defense staked them with a 3-and-out and a short field to start the game, the offense went to work, marching down the field 49 yards for a touchdown with George Naufahu doing most of the work. The Bulldogs converted a key fourth down and three to keep that initial drive alive.
CSM went on to add three points 12 seconds into the second quarter on a 33-yard field goal by Scott Agee to up the lead to 10-0.
At the end of quarter one, the Bulldogs had a 147 to 19 advantage in the total yardage category as well.
The domination continued on CSM’s ensuing drive when Casey Wichman found a wide-open Raeshawn Lee for a 55-yard touchdown pitch and catch to culminate a 75-yard drive. The score with 11:30 left in the half was 17-0 and the game had the makings of a blowout.
But the Rams made their first dent on the scoreboard on a 19-yard touchdown pass from former Menlo-Atherton Bear Turner Baty. A couple of key penalties on the CSM defense aided CCSF and three minutes after CSM scored, the Rams closed in on that lead 17-7. It was a sign of things to come as the yellow haunted the Bulldogs throughout the contest. They turned the ball over on an interception and with time winding down in the first half, a pair of flags again fueled the ensuing CCSF drive.
Baty made the most of the gifts by hooking up with DeAndre Thompson on a 21-yard touchdown pass cutting the score to 17-13 with two minutes left in the half.
CSM’s final crack of the period, began with a run for loss and did not go anywhere from there. The score was 17-13 going into recess with CSM still holding a considerable edge on the stat sheet (267 total yards to 107). But by the half, the Bulldogs had already been penalized nine times for 102 yards. CCSF, on the other hand, was only penalized three times for 32 yards.
“I’ll tell like this, I think any defensive player will tell you that I don’t think the penalties take away from our aggressiveness,” Levi said. “Regardless of what happens, we’re still going to stay aggressive. We just had to play smarter.”
With the Rams nipping at their heels, the Bulldogs turned to a couple of big plays to start the third quarter and earned the early second half momentum.
After CCSF got the ball back on offense and drove all the way down inside the CSM 10-yard line, a huge fourth down sack by Michael Spivey gave the Bulldogs the ball with less than six minutes in the frame. Then, on the ensuing offensive play from scrimmage, Michael Latu reminded Peninsula fans of his big play antics back at San Mateo High School with a 77-yard sprint right down the heart of the San Francisco defense. Just like that, CSM was back up by double digits.
San Francisco wasn’t done though. Behind Baty, the Rams passed their way down the field 80 yards and less than two minutes later, got a touchdown run by Daivon Ballard to cut the lead to just five points with 3:44 in the third quarter.
CSM responded but saw two potential touchdowns wiped away. One by a strong CCSF goal line stand and another by their 13th penalty, a holding call that negated a terrific Quincy Nelson punt return to the end zone. A couple of minutes after what would have been a magnificent play, CSM punted the ball away.
But the Bulldogs went back into the Big Play Bank and cashed in. First, a big hit on third down by Deshane Hines prevented a sure first down by CCSF that would have set them up near midfield. Then after the ensuing punt, Lee and Wichman hooked up one more time on a 58-yard touchdown. It was a great double-move by Lee that freed him up in the CCSF secondary. After the extra point was missed, CSM led 30-19 with less than 10 minutes left to play.
“It’s just a play-action call and Raeshawn did a really good job of getting of his press and with the quick moves,” Wichman, who finished with 199 yards passing, said. “He got open. And I felt really comfortable in the pocket today. My offensive line did amazing job. I had time to step into the pocket and make the throws.”
The Bulldog defense followed that big play with an interception on fourth down near midfield by Jordan Sheppard and while they didn’t score off that pick, the punt on fourth down pinned the Rams on the 1-yard line with 5:44 left in the game.
“Our defense has an identity,” Levi said. “It’s called a no-love defense. It’s a lifestyle. It’s not a thing that you just want to be one day. It’s something that you have to live — a no-love mentality is always running to the ball, never staying on the floor, always going until the whistle blows. That’s our identity. We have big hitters at linebacker, big hitters in the secondary and monsters in the trenches. That’s how you do it. That’s how you build a defense.”
CCSF’s last stand began with a Shalom Luani interception and return deep into CSM territory with just four minutes left to play. Seven plays and one very important pass interference penalty later, CCSF made it a five-point game with 2:31 in the game. But a big first down run by Wichman on the ensuing drive sealed the victory for San Mateo.
The Bulldogs held the Rams to just 273 yards of total offense while posting 530 of their own.
“It feels amazing,” Wichman said. “We played hard the whole game. Football is a big game of momentum. They did a good job of shutting down our read option so we were running our plays, running our plays, they started to creep up, creep up, creep up and then we hit them with the long ball. Today we executed and had really good chemistry.”