The article below originally appeared in Mercury News and is being reprinted with permission.
The window for a run at the state championship shrunk Saturday for No. 4 College of San Mateo as it came away 2 yards short of a comeback in a 28-20 loss on the road to top-ranked Butte College.
The clash between the last two undefeated teams in Northern California went down the wire in Oroville as the Bulldogs (7-1, 2-1 NorCal) had first-and-goal from the 7-yard line. CSM ran the ball four times, but quarterback Casey Wichman was stopped for a loss from 2 yards out on fourth down as time expired.
In the chess match between the trenches, both teams called timeouts prior to fourth down. CSM gained 401 yards on 59 carries, with the bulk coming on a 67-yard touchdown by running back George Naufahu in the first half and a 93-yard scamper by Wichman with 10:04 left in the third quarter.
Neither team scored after that, with Butte (8-0, 3-0) limited to 127 rushing yards on 36 attempts — or 2.8 yards per carry. But the Roadrunners found ways to score, with 21-yard pass on an option pass from a wide receiving making it 14-0 in the second quarter before back-to-back touchdowns from Naufahu, who finished with 125 yards on 15 carries.
But Butte took a 21-14 edge into intermission after a 14-yard touchdown pass with 13 ticks left in the half, then doubled its lead with a 92-yard kickoff return out of the locker room.
CSM turned it over three times, losing a pair of fumbles. The Bulldogs had a chance to pull even with 4:23 left in the fourth quarter, but a pass from just outside the red zone on fourth-and-6 was intercepted at the 2-yard line. Wichman finished 3-of-13 for 58 passing yards with no touchdowns, on top of his game-high 130 yards on 14 carries.