The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.

The College of San Mateo defense, after allowing an early score, scratched and clawed to hold on for a 14-7 win Saturday at Butte College-Oroville’s Cowan Stadium. With the win, the Bulldogs improve their overall record to 2-2.

Butte running back Martin Fleming broke a 56-yard touchdown run just five minutes into the game to give his team an early 7-0 lead. Fleming went on to rush for a game-high 205 yards on 23 carries, but CSM outgained Butte in total offensive yards 415-373.

A pair of Serra alumni — sophomore linebacker Daniel Lavulo and freshman defensive end Kwami Jones — helped lead the Bulldogs’ defense to eight tackles for losses including three sacks, one by Lavulo, his second of the year. Lavulo totaled five tackles and Jones six. The Bulldogs were paced by freshmen Elijah Orr and Colt Doughty with nine tackles apiece.

Butte had plenty of chances to catch CSM (2-2 overall), moving the ball into the red zone on each of its last three possessions of the game.

The first saw the Roadrunners (2-2) facing third-and-goal from the CSM 5-yard line when quarterback Clayton Welch completed a 4-yard pass but was fumbled away and recovered by Bulldogs’ defensive lineman Jelani Brown with 8:50 to play. CSM went three-and-out and the Roadrunners offense quickly turned it around to move to the Bulldogs’ 15, but a spree on incomplete passes saw Butte turn it over on downs with 2:54 left.

Bulldogs quarterback Ryan Brand drove the team to the Butte 17-yard line but missed a fourth-down pass attempt to turn the ball over on downs with 1:06 remaining. Butte swiftly drove downfield on a penalty-laden possession. Welch looked to have a 41-yard touchdown to tie it, but the play was called back due to offsetting penalties. Three plays later Welch misfired to have a pass nabbed by CSM’s Deon White, but the Bulldogs were flagged for pass interference to give Butte a second life.

With the penalty advancing to the CSM 11-yard line, Butte had time for one last play by Welch’s pass was incomplete to end it.

While the CSM defense was pitching a shutout over the final three quarters, Brand led his team to two first-half touchdowns to overtake the lead. Brand was 11-of-28 passing for 234 yards and an interception; he also rushed for an 8-yard score midway through the second quarter to give CSM the lead.

The Bulldogs tied it late in the first quarter when fullback Sione Finefeuiaki recovered an offensive fumble in the end zone. The play was a 53-yard pass from Brand to sophomore Ramiah Marshall, but Marshall had the ball stripped near the goal line and picked up by Finefeuiaki for the score.

Marshall totaled 95 receiving yards on five catches to pace CSM. Freshman running back Rashaan Fontenette rushed for a team-high 82 yards on 13 carries.

CSM had one more non-conference tuneup prior to the start of Bay 6 Conference play, as the Bulldogs travel to American River College this Saturday for a 7 p.m. kickoff.