The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
The No. 4-ranked College of San Mateo Bulldogs, entering Saturday’s Bay 6 Conference opener as clear favorites over the De Anza Dons, took a lesson from the Division I ranks.
It was Friday night’s Pac-12 upset that saw No. 8 Washington State endure a 37-3 loss at the hands of Cal — the alma mater of CSM offensive coordinator Bret Pollack — and the Bulldogs took that outcome to heart.
“Our coaches talked about that,” CSM defensive tackle Mike Mounga said. “Our coaches said if we let our guard down, bad things happen.”
Most of the bad things that happened Saturday happened to De Anza as the Bulldogs (1-0 Bay 6, 5-1 overall) scored 35 points in the second quarter en route to a 58-12 victory. CSM set a season-high in total yards, outgaining the Dons 588-242.
Much of the dominance of the CSM offense was a cause of returning offensive linemen Jared Huddleston and Eddie Tatola. Huddleston, a sophomore center, missed three games due to a shoulder injury. Tatola, a sophomore guard, missed two games due to disciplinary reasons.
The tandem found their footing in a hurry though, and needed to in order to keep the CSM offense moving. The Bulldogs were without their leading rusher, freshman running back Cameron Taylor, who was out with a minor Achilles injury. The Bulldogs turned to their most varied rushing attack of the season, relying on seven different ball carriers to combine for 300 rushing yards on the day.
“It felt like nothing changed,” Tatola said. “It felt like we got back right where we left off.”
Freshman running back Damani Sistena rushed for a game-high 88 yards on 10 carries. But it was the quarterback position that really shined on the ground game as starting QB Miles Kendrick (10 carries, 66 yards) and backup Shawn Akina (eight carries, 74 yards) combined for 140 yards rushing.
Kendrick set the tone early. The versatile freshman out of Valley Christian accounted for 345 total yards — most coming in the first half — completing 12 of 18 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns. He added two more TDs via the rush.
CSM head coach Larry Owens was complimentary of Kendrick’s performance, but was less enthusiastic about the early rhythm, or lack thereof, established by the rest of the CSM offense.
“[Kendrick] was really in tune with what we were doing,” Owens said. “I just wish there was 10 other guys going in the same direction as him.”
In the first quarter, it appeared CSM might leave the door open for that upset of Cal-Washington State proportions. After scoring on their opening possession — Kendrick ran for 19 yards, completed a pass to Line Latu for 19 yards, then scored on a 1-yard bootleg — the Bulldogs came up empty for the remainder of the quarter, managing just one first down through three failed possessions.
“Early in the game we couldn’t move the ball,” Owens said. “The timing was off. Guys were slipping off blocks; guys weren’t making blocks.”
De Anza (0-1, 1-5) had a chance to tie it when quarterback Zachary Silva sprung a 53-yard touchdown pass to Antwan Banks, closing the score to 7-6. CSM, though, blocked the ensuing point-after try and, as a result, would lead the entire way.
The Bulldogs responded with an eight-play, 69-yard scoring drive, highlighted by a 39-yard pass from Kendrick to freshman receiver Rajae Johnson, who gathered the throw with an outstanding diving catch near the sideline. Three plays later, Kendrick waltzed in on a 5-yard bootleg run, capping the first of five straight scoring drives by CSM before the half.
Meanwhile, the CSM defense shut down De Anza through the middle of the field. Mounga and Tevita Musika, both sophomore defensive tackles denied De Anza few positive yards through the middle early on. The Bulldogs totaled 10 tackles for losses in the game.
“We just came out and did our job,” Mounga said.
The result was De Anza frantically trying to spread the field, with Silva rolling out and biding his time until he could find open receivers on secondary routes. Unfortunately, De Anza had two completions in the manner called back due to the receiver going out of bounds before he reentered to catch a pass.
Akina entered at quarterback at the start of the second half. The freshman, who started the first two games of the season for CSM, grinded some tough rushing gains before sophomores Dennis Green and Jerome Holloway entered to balance the ground attack. Holloway carried six times for 41 yards, while Green totaled 18 yards on seven carries with two touchdowns.
“I thought these guys came in and did a really good job … when they got a chance to play,” Owens said.
CSM returns home this Saturday to host Contra Costa College. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. Contra Costa had its Bay 6 opener postponed. Originally scheduled to play Saturday at Santa Rosa Junior College, the game was postponed due to the North Bay fires and the resulting suspension of all athletics at Santa Rosa JC.