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

The College of San Mateo Bulldogs, en route to last season’s state football championship, experienced one hiccup.

A second-half meltdown on Feb. 21, 2022 at Diablo Valley College saw a 21-point halftime lead slip away in a 23-21 defeat, the only loss of CSM’s season. The memory loomed large through the past week in the Bulldogs’ preparation for DVC’s visit Saturday to Bulldog Stadium. The preparation, done with a chip on the Bulldogs’ collective shoulder, certainly paid off.

CSM (2-0 Bay 6, 6-1 overall) scored on the opening play when Jeremiah Patterson returned the kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, and never let up, making quick work of DVC in a walloping 56-7 victory.

“The guys that were on that field at DVC last year, they remember that we didn’t play well in the second half,” CSM head coach Tim Tulloch said. “And we remember that final score and that was our one blemish on last year’s season. Again, every time you have a loss or you don’t play your best football, it’s a great opportunity to learn and grow.”

A sophomore out of James Logan-San Francisco, Patterson has been a force at the wide out position this season. While he’s caught six touchdowns on offense, however, Saturday’s bolt on the opening kickoff was his first touchdown return in two seasons as CSM’s kick returner.

“One of the things that we wanted to make sure that we did was start fast, and last week against Laney (in the Bay 6 Conference opener) we started fast on defense but took a few drives to get started on offense,” Tulloch said. “Our kickoff return unit heard that message and said: ‘Let’s just go to the house on the first play.’”

Patterson’s score was the first of a one-two combination. With CSM out-gaining DVC in total yards 418-98 — including the Vikings being held to five total yards in the first half — the Bulldogs’ defense forced a quick three-and-out.

On CSM’s first offensive play from scrimmage, sophomore running back Matthew White motored for a 57-yard pickup to DVC’s 9-yard line. On the next play, freshman Suli Tikoisuva scored on a 9-yard run to put the Bulldogs up 14-0 just over two minutes into the contest.

Both runs were fronted by freshman left tackle David Fononga out of Aragon.

“It was: Bam! Bam!’” Tulloch said. “So, we started fast.”

White, Tikoisuva and sophomore running back Si’i Tengei (Hillsdale) have seen little time out of the backfield this season, but the trio accounted for every running back carry Saturday. White finished with 13 carries for 103 yards, Tengei totaled 11 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown, and Tikoisuva had six carries for 27 touchdowns and two TDs.

“So, [Tengei] brought that power, Matt White brought the speed, and then Suli, he was really the combination of speed and power,” Tulloch said.

That was all the offense CSM would need, but added plenty more as the defense put on a show. The Bulldogs totaled seven sacks in the game, with sophomore linebacker Nate Carr leading the way with his first two sacks of the season.

“Yeah, we had a special rush plan for these guys … and it was spread around,” Tulloch said. “It was kind of like our receiving stat line. On offense, almost everyone had a catch, and on defense, almost everyone up front had a sack.”

Freshman defensive back Johno Price (Menlo-Atherton) kept CSM on the offensive with a first-quarter interception. Price was tasked with guarding DVC’s leading receiver Mekel Ealy, and didn’t allow the freshman to touch the ball all day.

“He played great,” Tulloch said. “I don’t think he gave up a catch and really shut his side of the field down.”

CSM scored three times in the second quarter. A 3-yard TD run by Tikoisuva was followed by a pair of Anthony Grigsby touchdown passes, one to Anthony Freeman for 46 yards, and one to Terence Loville for 9.

DVC (1-1, 2-5) opened the second half with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Jerry Johnson to Damani Burrell. But the Bulldog defense wouldn’t surrender anything else, and quarterbacks Alex Grado and Raymond Price both tallied touchdown throws in the second half — Grado connected with Nico Caruso for 5 yards, and Price hit KB Boone-Nelson for 22 yards — while Tengei added a 1-yard TD run.

Grigsby was 8-of-10 passing for 135 yards and two TDs. Freshman defensive back Kalen Woods added an interception for CSM.

Next up, the Bulldogs travel to Hayward to face Chabot College this coming Saturday at 1 p.m.