The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
When the College of San Mateo Bulldogs took their first offensive possession of the second quarter Saturday at College Heights Stadium, they found themselves in a position they were only in twice all of last year — trailing by 14 points.
Both those matchups accounted for the only two losses of the 2014 season for the Bulldogs. Yet CSM head coach Bret Pollack said there was no panic in he, or his team, Saturday. And they showed it. The Bulldogs scored on their next seven legitimate possessions — sans a one-play possession to run out the clock at the end of the first half — to power past the Butte College Roadrunners 56-27.
The win marks the third straight to start the year for the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (3-0), who totaled 578 yards offense against winless Butte (0-3).
“I never panicked,” Pollack said. “There’s nothing to panic about. It’s a football game. But we definitely overcame some adversity.”
Freshman fullback Joey Wood broke out for the first big performance of his collegiate career, rushing for a game-high 145 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns.
CSM came up empty on its first two possessions, with a three-and-out followed by freshman quarterback Dru Brown’s lone interception of the day. But the Bulldogs solved the Butte defense on their first possession of the second quarter with the help of two beneficial pitch plays to freshman running back Ramiah Marshall.
After spreading the Roadrunners’ defense from sideline to sideline, Wood busted through for his first score of the day on a 13-yard run through the middle to cut Butte’s lead to 14-7.
“He’s made to power the ball up the middle and overpower the defense,” Pollack said. “The name of his game is between the tackles and to break tackles.”
Wood’s outburst was even more impressive, considering the Bulldogs’ finished the first half missing five regular offensive linemen. Sophomore Mani Tonga and freshman Feke Kioa were already on the shelf going into the game. Then three offensive linemen — freshman George Moore, sophomore Eduardo Balderas and freshman Adriel Miller — each went down with early injuries.
“At one point we were out five offensive linemen, and we only have 10,” Pollack said. “But it’s ‘man down, man up’ … and the guys responded.”
Brown and Wood teamed up to dominate on CSM’s next possession. Both are true freshmen out of Los Gatos High School, and the chemistry has translated quickly to the college stage.
“There has to be (chemistry),” Pollack said. “They played high school together, they played the backfield together; you can’t deny that’s a factor. And that’s good.”
On the drive, Brown completed passes of 17 and 30 yards, and ran for a pair of 2-yard gains including a first-down to the Butte 1-yard line, setting up a score on the following play. Wood chunked for gains of 2, 6, 3 and 1 yards, with the final blast going for a touchdown to send the game into halftime tied 14-14.
CSM wide receiver Johnny Niupalau was Brown’s most prolific passing target on the day. The sophomore hauled in four catches for 153 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown grab in the third quarter to extend CSM’s lead to 28-14.
On the preceding drive, CSM jumped out front for the first time in the game. After freshman Malik Goss-Pruitt returned the second half’s opening kickoff 40 yards to the CSM 46-yard line, Brown drove the offense downfield with a 22-yard pass to Marshall followed by a 20 yard run on a quarterback keeper. Then Marshall gave the Bulldogs the lead with a 12-yard scoring run.
After taking a two-touchdown lead, the Bulldogs regained possession quickly and immediately turned it into another score. With 4:54 remaining the third quarter, Wood took the first play of the drive for a 64-yard scoring carry to give CSM a 35-14 lead.
Butte got a score back near the end of the quarter when quarterback Tommy Hays threw for his second touchdown of the game. Hays was 12-of-19 passing for 136 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. The quarterback totaled 179 yards for a Roadrunners offense that generated 363 total yards.
But Brown countered with a 9-of-15 passing day for 273 yards and three touchdowns, more than doubling his season passing total through his first two games as a Bulldog. The freshman opened the fourth quarter with a 37-yard touchdown pass to sophomore David Rango. On the following possession, he led a six-play, 77-yard drive to find the end zone on a 15-yard pass to freshman Chik Nzerem.
Butte scored once more on a 66-yard touchdown pass from Hays to freshman Chance Trammell midway through the fourth quarter to cut the CSM lead to 49-27. But the Bulldogs answered inside the final two minutes with the game’s final score. CSM linebacker Tyson Terreros set up the final drive with an interception at midfield. Then freshman running back Karris Johnson carried five times on a seven-play drive, with gains of 8, 10, 5 and 3 yards before scoring on a 2-yard run.
Freshman Keenan Johnson also recorded an interception for CSM. Sophomore defensive tackle Anthony Ameperosa had one sack while Terreros and sophomore Cody Brown combined for a half sack apiece. Terreros had a game-high 10 tackles.
Up next, CSM travels to San Joaquin Delta this Saturday at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs then return home Oct. 3 to face No. 16 American River College.