The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
A 20-point lead dissolved and a chaotic fourth quarter ensued, but the College of San Mateo Bulldogs survived to celebrate a wild win in their season opener.
The Bulldogs (1-0) marched 55 yards in under two minutes for a comeback drive late in the fourth quarter, claiming a 37-34 road win at Ostrom Stadium on the campus of Sierra College in Rocklin. An 18-yard pass from Anthony Grigsby to sophomore receiver Jeremiah Patterson with 1:04 to play proved the game-winner.
Grigsby played the whole way under center, as the redshirt freshman finished 20-of-33 passing for 290 yards and two touchdowns. Patterson was his go-to target, totaling seven catches for 129 yards — none bigger than his haul in the corner of the end zone with a tippy-toe drag of the foot to stay in bounds.
“They were just so calm and composed in that two-minute situation … and got us in the end zone,” CSM head coach Tim Tulloch said.
CSM seemed to be in command with 5:19 to go in the third quarter, when Grigsby connected with Terence Loville for a 7-yard scoring pass to put the Bulldogs up 27-7. But the Wolverines (0-1) answered with 20 straight points to start the fourth quarter to tie it. After kicker Caleb Ojeda gave the Bulldogs the lead back 30-27 with a booming 43-yard field goal, Sierra fired back with a six-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 4-yard Cruz Herrera run to take its first lead of the day, 34-30, with 2:45 to play.
“It was a crazy fourth quarter,” Tulloch said. “What was great was to see our guys step up in crunch time both sides of the ball.”
With the Bulldogs turning over approximately 80% of their roster from last season’s California Community College Athletic Association state championship team, a vast majority of Saturday’s starters were playing in their first college game. While community colleges obviously have consistent turnover due to a two-year window, this year’s turnover is higher than most, Tulloch said.
“It’s high,” he said. “What’s great, it’s great to get all those guys the first games under their belts and get them going.”
CSM ran 73 plays to Sierra’s 58 but outgained the Wolverines by the slight margin of 380-364.
Freshman linebacker Odera Okaka anchored the defense with two sacks, while sophomores Malakai Hoeft and Matthew White combined for a half sack apiece. CSM totaled two interceptions, with sophomore lineman Max Dickson putting the game away on Sierra’s first play following the Grigsby-to-Patterson game winner, coming down with his first career pick at the Wolverines’ 25 with under a minute to play.
“When Max intercepted the ball, the sideline really went crazy,” Tulloch said. “For this early in the season, it was a pretty memorable experience and a pretty memorable night for these guys. Interesting way to start the season.”
The afternoon started nicely enough for the Bulldogs, who took a 20-0 lead into halftime, scoring three times in the second quarter with touchdown runs of 3 yards by Grigsby and 1 yard by Lolo Mataele, along with a pick-6 by J’air Smith with a 35-yard return.
Sierra struck back on its first possession of the second half with a 37-yard scoring pass from Cruz Herrera to Zavery Guerra. But Grigsby drove the Bulldogs on their ensuing possession, hitting passes of 15 yards to Anthony Freeman followed by a 19-yard strike to Fidel Pitts on third-and-10 to set up the scoring pass to Loville on third-and-goal from the 7.
The Wolverines fell flat on their next possession but got the ball back to score on the first play of the fourth quarter with a 15-yard pass from Herrera to Sebastian Sutton. A strip sack gave Sierra the ball back four plays later at the CSM 2-yard line, and Herrera punched it in to make it 27-21. After CSM was forced to punt with 9:36 remaining, Sierra took over at its own 15, but an 80-yard scoring pass from Herrera to Dontae Robinson tied it at 27-27.
“They made a couple explosive plays in a row and got some momentum … and football is such a momentum game, when it swings it swings,” Tulloch said. “And then it was a dogfight.”
Sophomore running back Nate Sanchez emerged for the Bulldogs on the following possession, sustaining a drive starting at the CSM 40 with runs of 7, 9, 4 and 18 yards. It was enough to advance to the Sierra 5 before Grigsby was dropped for a sack and a loss oof 21 yards. The Bulldogs settled for the field goal, but Herrera — 16-of-26 passing for 262 yards and three touchdowns — delivered a big drive before using his legs to give the Wolverines their first lead.
With CSM taking over at its own 45 with 2:32 to go, Grigsby hit three straight passes — Loville for 5, Patterson for 5, and Freeman for 26 into the red zone — before the acrobatic catch by Patterson two plays later for the lead.
“JP went up, basically his body and the ball were out of bounds, and he got his toe back in bounds … for a toe-tap touchdown,” Tulloch said. “It was special.”
Sanchez paced CSM with 19 carries for a game-high 78 yards. Nine different Bulldogs caught passes, including Freeman (three catches for 54 yards) and Pitts (three for 30).
CSM now returns to College Heights Stadium for its home opener this coming Saturday, hosting College of the Sequoias. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.