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

CSM defensive tackle Tevita Musika stops Fresno City rusher Khai Williams Saturday in the Bulldogs’ 21-19 victory. Photo by Patrick Nguyen.

CSM defensive tackle Tevita Musika stops Fresno City rusher Khai Williams Saturday in the Bulldogs’ 21-19 victory. Photo by Patrick Nguyen.

In a game with four lead changes, the College of San Mateo Bulldogs defense made certain there wasn’t a fifth.

The No. 7-ranked Bulldogs (3-0 overall) shut down Fresno City College’s final three possessions to hold on for a 21-19 victory Saturday at Ratcliffe Stadium. With the win, CSM is off to a 3-0 start for the second time in three years.

After No. 10 Fresno (2-1) took the lead 12-7 at the start of the second half, CSM quarterback Shawn Akina led the Bulldogs back downfield for a seven-play, 78-yard scoring drive capped by the freshman’s 4-yard touchdown run. The Bulldogs added a score at the start of the fourth quarter — on a drive sustained by a gutsy fourth-and-2 advance from the Fresno 29 — to improve the lead to 21-12.

It took Fresno just two plays to respond with quarterback Trey McJunkin completing passes of 42 and 9 yards to find the end zone, cutting the lead to 21-19. On its next two possessions, however, Fresno netted minus-4 yards. And after getting the ball back for one last shot at its own 5 with 23 seconds to go, two quick passes of 12 and 39 yards would not be enough.

The game ended two plays later when Fresno quarterback Chris Dye was sacked by Heikoti Vaisma to close out the Bulldogs’ third straight victory, and their second straight that went down to the wire. The previous week, Sat. Sept. 9, CSM won 37-36 after Sierra College botched the snap on a would-be game-winning field goal in the closing seconds.

Paced by Akina’s 228 total yards — 12-of-22 passing for 185 yards and two interceptions; 16 carries for 43 yards rushing — the Bulldogs outgained Fresno 379-308 in total offense. But the real story was the dominance the CSM defense displayed over Fresno’s ground game.

With Fresno coming off a 31-10 win over Santa Rosa — a game in which Fresno outrushed the Bear Cubs 302-17 — CSM flipped the script to hold Fresno to just 54 rushing yards. Fresno running back Khai Williams against Santa Rosa went for 113 rushing yards. CSM held Williams to just 22 yards on 12 carries.

Vaisma finished the day with two sacks, the first two in the collegiate career of the freshman out of Clayton Valley-Concord. The Bulldogs also produced three interceptions, one by sophomore linebacker Colt Doughty and two more by freshman defensive back Jamarri Jackson.

 Jackson’s second INT was one of the highlight-reel toppers for CSM as the freshman out of Christian Brothers-Sacramento took it 54 yards for a pick-6 with 2:46 remaining in the first half. It was the spark the Bulldogs were looking for as it accounted for their first points of the day, giving them a 7-5 lead going into the locker room.

Taylor endured a gritty day out of the CSM backfield, rushing 27 times for 90 yards and one touchdown. As a senior at Hillsdale in 2015, Taylor proved a workhorse. Through Hillsdale’s final two Central Coast Section playoff games, he totaled 58 carries, including a career-high 30 in a 23-7 semifinal win over Silver Creek. He added 28 carries in a 41-24 championship game loss to Aptos.

After two weeks on the road, the Bulldogs return home this Saturday to host Butte College, also 3-0 to start the year. Kickoff at College Heights Stadium is slated for 1 p.m.