The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
The College of San Mateo Bulldogs had no trouble moving the ball in their Week 3 road trip to Modesto.
CSM (3-0) racked up 619 total yards of offense to come away with a 37-20 win Saturday afternoon at Modesto Junior College. Scoring the football, however, took some doing. After a first half plagued with poor execution in the red zone, the Bulldogs took a 14-7 deficit into halftime.
Sophomore kicker Caleb Ojeda turned the tide in the second half, though, booting three straight field goals of 30, 46 and 26 yards to give the Bulldogs a 16-14 lead. CSM would score 23 straight points, led by a career day from quarterback Anthony Grigsby, who was 21-of-34 passing for 436 yards.
“We were able to do a good job with our passing attack, and Grigsby had another strong day today,” CSM head coach Tim Tulloch said. “And I really liked what our receivers did. … So, we were able to make some explosive plays in the pass game.”
Modesto (2-1) opened the day with a quick eight-play, 72-yard scoring drive. The Bulldogs answered right back, as Grigsby completed passes of 29 and 34 yards, before freshman running back Julius Tikoisuv ran punched it across the goal line to tie it 7-7.
While the CSM offense continued to move the ball, the next two possessions ended with turnovers at the goal line — a Tikoisuv fumble at the Modesto 2, followed by Kainoa Ontai intercepting Grigsby in the end zone.
The Pirates took the lead late in the half on a drive that saw two third-down and one fourth-down conversion, including a third-and-goal look that saw quarterback Luke Weaver hit England for a 12-yard scoring pass to make it 14-7. The Bulldogs were on the verge of answering, but with time running short in the half, a fourth-and-goal play from the Modesto 2 saw a Grigsby pass fall incomplete on the final play of the half.
“Right now, we’re a younger team, and so it’s just learning experiences getting down there but just not punching it in,” Tulloch said. “We just weren’t able to capitalize and get any points out of it. … The second half, we were able to convert in the red zone.”
While Grigsby completed passes to seven different receivers — five of them had multiple catches — sophomore Terence Loville was his most prolific target. The former Serra star who transferred to CSM after his 2022 freshman season at San Jose State totaled seven catches for 166 yards, all fueling Ojeda’s spree of field goals.
“Those were huge for us,” Tulloch said. “Terence has just been so consistent for us. Any time we need a big play, one of those receivers steps up, and it’s not always the same guy.”
Four of Loville’s catches — for 12, 8, 19 and 4 yards — helped set up Ojeda’s first field goal. After CSM stopped a Modesto scoring opportunity on fourth-and-9 pass at the 2, forcing a turnover on downs, the Bulldogs flipped the field with a 13-yard run by Lolo Mataele followed by a 53-yard pass from Grigsby to Loville, with the drive culminating in Ojeda’s second field goal to make it 14-13.
“Terence had another game where he was dominant,” Tulloch said, “with extremely tough catches, in traffic, took a couple big hits on the sideline while he was up going for a ball, and came down with it, and popped right back up and signaled first down. He’s gritty, and I think it just created an energy for us on the sideline for us … when you see him make a big, explosive play for us, and take a shot and respond.”
After CSM got another defensive stop for a Modesto punt giving the offense the ball back near midfield, Grigsby went to the air to find Loville on a 47-yard completion to the Pirates’ 2. That set up an Ojeda chip shot to give CSM the lead 16-14.
On the other side of the ball, defensive linemen Ezra Funa and Soane Kolokihakaufisi tempered the Modesto running game. The Pirates averaged 241 rushing yards through their first two games and were coming off a 51-41 win over Santa Rosa in which they gained 319 yards on the ground. CSM held them to a season-low 95 yards rushing.
“Those two really anchored the front and controlled the line of scrimmage tackle to tackle,” Tulloch said. “In the pass game, Malini Ti’a, our safety, he was everywhere. He was sideline to sideline. He had an interception in the second half. And we just got stops.”
In the fourth quarter, Grigsby finally got the Bulldogs back in the end zone, capping a seven-play, 75-yard drive with a 20-yard scoring strike to freshman Jeremiah Patterson to make it 23-14.
After Modesto was forced to punt on its next two possessions, the Bulldogs scored again, highlighted by Serra graduate Nate Sanchez, a sophomore running back, who caught a pass of 20 yards before tallying runs of 8 and 9 yards. Grigsby capped the eight-play, 72-yard drive with a 2-yard scoring run to make it 30-14.
Sanchez gained a career-high 170 total yards, taking 11 carries for 100 yards rushing, and adding two catches for 70 yards.
“We were efficient in our run game,” Tulloch said. “In the fourth quarter when we need to take the air out of the game, we were able to control the game and control the clock on the ground. So, it was good.”
Modesto got one score back with a quick answer, a 41-yard TD pass from Weaver to Lyon Colon. But the Bulldogs went large on the ensuing possession, with Sanchez breaking a 50-yard touchdown run with 2:37 to play.
“It was a dogfight … and we are built for dogfights,” Tulloch said. “I was proud of how our guys took control in the second half — and finished.”
The Bulldogs — now going for their 10th straight victory, dating back to last season — return home this coming Saturday to take on unbeaten American River College (3-0). Kickoff at College Heights Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m.