The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
College of San Mateo wide receiver Raeshawn Lee has a no-nonsense philosophy when it comes to executing big pass plays.
“When we get those, the scoreboard shows,” Lee said.
The scoreboard showed Saturday as, for the third straight week, CSM (4-0) surpassed the 50-point plateau, rolling to a 52-7 win over San Joaquin Delta (0-4) at College Heights Stadium.
What was so impressive about the Bulldogs’ Week 4 performance is the personnel upon which they relied. For the second consecutive week, CSM turned to backup quarterback Justin Burgess to spell an injured Jeremy Cannon.
But the Bulldogs also had to make up for the loss of their top running back, with sophomore Michael Latu out of action due to an undisclosed injury. Add to that three out of action starting offensive linemen with reserves Tini Fanaika, Aaron Hill and right tackle Ryan Pololizio stepping in to fill the void.
The depth of offensive personnel resulted in CSM manufacturing 564 yards of total offense to improve its undefeated record to 4-0.
“Today I came out and told the guys right off the bat, ‘Let’s go. Don’t even give them a chance to think about playing with us,’” Burgess said.
Burgess has personified CSM’s depth by leading two straight blowout victories. The 6-3, 210-pound freshman led a high-percentage air attack Saturday, completing 15 of 21 passes for 181 yards with two touchdown throws. He also ran for another score.
“I’ve been really impressed with the way he’s been playing,” said Lee, who had a game-high 98 yards receiving on five catches and nabbed both of Burgess’ touchdown throws. “He really stepped up. That’s the type of team we have. We have a whole lot of people on the lower half of the depth chart working hard every single day. So when a guy does go down, the next guy is ready to step up and perform. And J.B. has been doing that for two weeks.”
CSM slot receiver D.J. Peluso emerged to pace the ground game, surpassing his entire season rushing total entering into Saturday with 117 yards on nine carries. Freshman Miles Willis also had a big performance out of the slot with 75 yards on seven carries. The Bulldogs balanced the backfield attack between Sammy Fanua (66 yards on seven carries) and Durrell Crooks (51 yards on 10 carries) who combined for over 100 ground yards.
The Bulldogs’ defense has seen its share of injuries as well. Last week, the defensive line was so short-staffed, offensive lineman Mani Tonga made the switch to the other side of the ball to serve as CSM’s nose tackle. And Saturday, for the fourth straight week, the Bulldogs were without linemen Tevita Taungahahifo and Anthony Ameperosa.
“Other guys need to step up,” CSM defensive coordinator Tim Tulloch said. “And that’s the beauty of this game is when you have adversity like that, you need to look to other guys to step forward. And those other guys have done a great job.”
According to Tulloch, the name of the game Saturday was to hold the Delta ground game to under 50 yards. The Bulldogs got off to a flawless start, as Delta went three-and-out on its first four possessions of the day. By the time the Mustangs generated their first first down of the game, CSM led 18-0. Even though Tulloch began cycling in non-starters on defense as early as the second quarter, the Bulldogs held Delta to 132 yards of total offense.
CSM’s offense built an early lead. On their first possession, the Bulldogs featured a quick-tempo approach with Burgess connecting with precision for 5-of-6 completions in the first quarter. The only incomplete pass he threw was a drop which Burgess placed right on the hands of Kevin Kutchera.
CSM capped its first drive — a nine-play, 54-yard march — with a 15-yard option pitch to Willis for a score. On the Bulldogs’ next possession, Peluso started high-stepping through missed tackles to move downfield before Burgess connected with Lee on a 39-yard post-route for a touchdown, giving CSM a 12-0 lead.
Placekicker Justin Watts made up for missing back-to-back point after tries by booting a pair of field goals on consecutive drives, one a 28-yard and the other a 37-yard kick, to generate an 18-0 lead.
Then after Delta tabbed its initial first down — on a CSM personal-foul penalty, no less — the Bulldogs’ defense really ratcheted down when sophomore defensive end Adam Sagapolu extinguished the drive on third-and-long with the first of three Bulldogs sacks on the day.
“We just always come out and try to play with a lot of speed and intensity,” Sagapolu said.
That speed and intensity set up two more scoring drives before halftime. Burgess connected with Lee on an 8-yard strike to punctuate the first one. It was a throw into tight 1-on-1 coverage which Burgess placed to the back shoulder of Lee to capitalize on Delta’s downfield coverage.
“I knew coming into the game they were trying to not get beat over the top and our receivers adjusted perfectly,” Burgess said.
On CSM’s final drive of the first half, the Bulldogs employed a wing-blocking scheme to perfection with three consecutive big gains. Willis put the wing attack in motion with a 28-yard gain around the left side. Peluso followed with a 19-yard sprint around right. Then Burgess produced his best run of the season with a 16-yard ramble off the right side to find the end zone, giving CSM a 31-0 halftime lead.
CSM went right back to work to start the second half. Peluso broke a 21-yard scoring run to cap the first drive of the half. However, between Peluso’s 50-yard kickoff return, which was called back due to a holding penalty, and his 26-yard run to open the drive, which was nullified by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Peluso actually covered over 100 yards on the drive.
Peluso’s touchdown score was a thing of beauty though, as the 6-foot sophomore motored around the left side and followed an outstanding downfield block by Willis to clear a lane to the end zone, giving CSM a 38-0 lead.
The Bulldogs also received a third-quarter scoring run from eight yards out by sophomore slot Dewone Young to take a 45-0 lead. After Delta scored its only touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard blast by Malcolm Miller, CSM capped the day’s scoring on a 5-yard rush by Booker Robinson.
As for CSM’s goal of keeping Delta to under 50 yards rushing? Mission accomplished. The Mustangs netted just 42 rushing yards on 31 carries.
For a CSM team which earlier in the week garnered its first No. 1 state ranking in program history, the offensive depth stems from a long-standing system larger even than the sum of its parts, according to the 6-6, 340-pound Fanaika.
“It’s simple really — just ball hard,” Fanaika said. “It’s the same offense we’ve been running for years. It’s tradition.”
CSM faces a much tougher opponent this week, traveling to undefeated American River this coming Saturday night at 6 p.m. American River won its fourth game of the year Saturday in a battle of unbeatens with a 13-0 victory over City College of San Francisco.