The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
College of San Mateo caught two big breaks in the fourth quarter Saturday to escape from Sierra College with a 37-36 win in Week 2 of the community college football season.
Sierra had the Bulldogs (2-0 overall) in the crosshairs with eight seconds remaining with just a 21-yard field goal attempt standing in the way of a comeback win. But the Wolverines (0-2) botched the snap on the game’s penultimate play and the Bulldogs pounced to recover the resulting fumble.
CSM quarterback Shawn Akina enjoyed one of the biggest passing performances in recent Bulldogs memory, going 24-of-37 for 422 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Amid a seesaw battle to start the fourth quarter though, one that saw Sierra take a 36-31 lead with 11:53 remaining, Akina went cold to start the following drive.
The freshman QB got sacked on first down, then threw consecutive incomplete passes, forcing the Bulldogs to punt. On fourth down, though, Sierra was flagged for roughing punter Justin Watts, giving the CSM possession second life. And Akina did not waste it.
The Bulldogs went to the ground for four straight rushes from freshman Damani Sistena, who gained 9, 2 and 7 yards before getting hit for a 4-yard loss. But on third down, Akina responded with a 15-yard completion to freshman receiver Rajae Johnson for a first. Akina later connected with sophomore receiver Line Latu for a 19-yard pass to the Sierra 1-yard line. CSM then punched it in with a 1-yard run by Cameron Taylor to take the lead for good.
Johnson turned in a career day as well, totaling nine catches for 227 yards and a touchdown. The TD was a 79-yarder, which Johnson caught at the line of scrimmage before turning a corner and sprinting up the sideline to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game 10-7 in the second quarter.
CSM outgained Sierra 523-308 in total offense.
Both teams traded scores late in the second half, with Sistena scoring on a 17-yard run with 2:14 to go before halftime to put the Bulldogs up 17-14.
After Taylor score on a 16-yard run to open the second half, however, Sierra went on a 16-point tear, scoring on a 41-yard field goal by Aaron Peart before Brandon Alyuk hit pay dirt on an 80-yard punt return to tie it 24-24, then later made a 68-yard TD catch from quarterback Joseph Curry to give the Wolverines a 30-24 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Three plays later, facing third-and-10 from the CSM 27, Akina went large, connecting with Latu for a 73-yard touchdown, with Watts’ point-after try putting the Bulldogs up 31-30. But Sierra marched right back down for a six-play, 65-yard scoring drive capped by a 29-yard scoring run from Ryan Graham to retake the lead 36-31.
The CSM defense was in the Sierra backfield all day long. The Bulldogs totaled four sacks — one apiece from Sosaia Tuitavake, Mike Mounga, Jalil Lecky and Nathan Talakai — as well as nine tackles for loses. Sophomore linebacker Colt Doughty racked up 2 1/2 tackles for losses and paced CSM with eight total takedowns.
Akina’s passing total was briefly the highest of the year among California Community College Athletic Association quarterbacks, but was surpassed Saturday night by Grant Lowary of Long Beach Community College, who threw for 480 yards. CSM’s all-time single-game passing record was set in 1985 by Sal Genilla with 593 yards.