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

The College of San Mateo football team picked the wrong time to have an offensive hiccup, dropping a 14-0 decision to conference rival Laney in the semifinals of the Northern California regional playoff Nov. 17, ending the Bulldogs season.

While the loss stings — the Bulldogs beat the Eagles 27-18 in Week 7 — a third-straight, undefeated Bay Conference 6 championship and a chance to play for a state title were goals set and reached.

“I’m proud of these guys. Three-peating as Bay 6 Conference champions, hands down the toughest conference in California, to go through that conference (undefeated) for a third year in a row (is great),” said CSM head coach Tim Tulloch. “What’s good is we’re … playing for it (the state title) every year and that’s the standard.”

Laney, the third seed in the Nor Cal regional, will play for the state championship after beating No. 4 Fresno City College, 24-7 this past weekend. The Eagles will face Southern California champ Ventura at 1 p.m. Dec. 8 at Hughes Stadium on the campus of Sacramento City College.

Laney did to Fresno what it did to CSM: shut down the opposing offense. The 14-0 loss two weeks ago was the first for the Bulldogs since a 33-0 loss to San Francisco in 2010.

The Bulldogs defense kept them in the game, limiting Laney to just 245 yards of offense. But the CSM offense could not muster much as the Eagles held CSM to just 150 yards.

“It was an extremely competitive game,” Tulloch said. “Both sides went back and forth. Our guys played extremely hard. We had a shot down the stretch. … Had a chance to bring it close. But we weren’t able to pull it out.”

The Bulldogs’ passing attack struggled against a Laney defensive squad that was allowing only 174.1 yards passing per game, 10th-best in the state. The Bulldogs completed only 5 of 24 passes for 65 yards and threw a pair of interceptions.

The running game had just as much trouble gaining any traction as the Bulldogs rushed for only 85 yards, led by Rahsaan Fontenette’s 64 yards on 15 carries.

“We just have to execute better. It comes down to, in big games, a play here and a play there,” Tulloch said. “We know that being down that road and being in those games, you have to execute well at the right times.”

As is usually the case with junior college football, CSM will be moving a number of sophomores from the 2018 roster on to four-year schools and a new batch will be filling those voids.

And Tulloch is not waiting around.

“Shoot. We’re working (for 2019 already),” Tulloch said. “In the weight room (Monday), doing field work (Tuesday).”

Remembering a fallen teammate

Leuea Loto, a member of the 2017 CSM football team, was killed Thanksgiving Day in his hometown of Des Moines, Washington. He was gunned down playing in a pickup football game at his former high school, Mt. Rainier.

“He went down to his high school and met up with old teammates,” Tulloch said. “Two groups were involved in a confrontation, (one group) left, came back and started shooting.”

There will be a candlelight vigil for Loto 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the College of San Mateo College Center.

After graduating Mt. Rainier High in 2015, Loto spent his freshman year at City College of San Francisco before transferring to CSM for the 2017 season. He redshirted this season as he concentrated on work in the classroom.

“He was finishing up classes (at CSM) this fall,” Tulloch said. “He had signed a scholarship with Missouri Valley College and was going to enroll in January.”