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

For the third time in three years, the American River College football team hung a regular-season loss on College of San Mateo, beating the Bulldogs 18-13 last Saturday.

But CSM head coach Tim Tulloch doesn’t believe the final score means anything more than the result of playing a good team.

Tim Tulloch

Tim Tulloch

“When you say someone is ‘giving you fits,’ it means they’re rolling you up,” Tulloch said. “I wouldn’t take a position of that team giving us fits. They do a good job and we’ve had some classic battles with them.

“They made a couple plays at the end of the day.”

ARC connected on two long passes — including a 41-yard scoring strike with under a minute to play — to beat CSM (2-1 overall).

The loss dropped CSM in the JC Athletic Bureau rankings from No. 2 to No. 8 in the latest poll released Monday. ARC moved up two spots to No. 10 with the win.

But for Tulloch, the final score is not as important as how the team played and, given the caliber of opponent, the Bulldogs graded out rather well.

“We’re a team that’s growing. We lost a close one at an away game against a very good team,” Tulloch said. “What you look for early in the season is, are you getting better every week? And, did you play your best? We played Delta the week before (a 31-12 win) and we definitely didn’t play our best.

“We played better as a team Saturday and we’re heading in the right direction. It wasn’t our best game, but our young men are making progress. … What we need to be doing is peaking and playing well as a team by the time we get into conference (play).”

A lot of that growth will continue to come at quarterback as the CSM coaching staff is still scrambling three weeks into the season as a handful of signal callers are in the mix because of injury and inexperience. Game 1 starter Kamalii Akina was injured in the Bulldogs’ 42-0 win over College of Siskiyous, with Matt Adamkiewicz coming on to throw for 186 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Adamkiewicz got the start in Game 2 against Delta before Terrell Carter came on in relief. Last week Carter made the start. A transfer from San Jose State, Carter had only six practices with the Bulldogs under his belt before getting the call against the Beavers.

But a look at the stats show the Bulldogs were right there against ARC. They still managed 308 yards of offense, including 141 yards rushing.

But five turnovers — three interceptions and two fumbles — will kill most teams’ chances of winning.

Defensively, the Bulldogs have been stout. Although they allowed 414 yards of offense to ARC, they held the Beavers to just 18 points. Through three games, CSM is allowing an average of 10 points per game.

“Defense has been playing solid,” Tulloch said. “When you hold a good team under 20 points, that gives you a chance to win.”

The most important thing that came from Saturday’s loss is it enables the coaching staff to see what needs to be corrected because a good team will expose weaknesses and make the opposition pay for any mistakes.

“Good teams will always show you what you need to work on,” Tulloch said. “That’s why I love playing a very good schedule.”

But the team doesn’t have a lot of time to dwell on what happened Saturday as it prepares for another stern test against No. 17 Fresno City College this weekend. The coaching staff breaks down the game tape Sunday, gives the team the needed corrections on Monday and then it’s time to start preparing for Saturday’s game.

“Our kids are ready to get to work. If you look at the season as a 10-round fight, we lost the third round,” Tulloch said. “Monday … (we) highlight the things we did well, ID the things we need to improve on and then it’s right to work.

“Every week, our goal is to go 1-0, last week doesn’t matter.”