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

CSM freshman Kalen Woods reaches the end zone after a fumble recovery in the first quarter Friday night at Laney College in Oakland. Photo by Patrick Nguyen.

CSM freshman Kalen Woods reaches the end zone after a fumble recovery in the first quarter Friday night at Laney College in Oakland. Photo by Patrick Nguyen.

The College of San Mateo Bulldogs scored more points than they have in seven years, and it was the Dogs’ defense that set the scoring spree in motion.

CSM (1-0 Bay 6, 5-1 overall) opened Bay 6 Conference play with a statement 66-7 win Friday night at Laney College in Oakland. It is the most points the Bulldogs have scored in a single game since 2016, when they triumphed 69-20 over Brandon Aiyuk and Sierra College.

While the Bulldogs outgained Laney 434-129 in total yards, it was CSM’s defense that accounted for the first 24 points of the game.

“Guys were just absolutely flying around,” CSM head coach Tim Tulloch said. “[Defensive coordinator Hansen Sekona] challenged our guys to get two defensive scores … and force multiple turnovers. … He put a challenge to them, and they responded.”

The Dogs’ ‘D’ was on the field for just five plays to spur the 17-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

Laney’s first offensive play from scrimmage ended in a strip-sack on a jarring hit by CSM’s Arona Mata’u and a 2-yard scoop-and-score by Jerry Gaoteote to make it 7-0. Laney’s next play resulted in an interception by CSM’s Jermaine Hargra, setting up a 47-yard field goal by Caleb Ojeda to give the Bulldogs a 10-0 lead. Three plays later, CSM’s Fynn Williams intercepted a Marcus Saunders pass and returned it 34 yards for a pick-6, upping the lead to 17-0 with 7:47 to play in the first quarter.

Sekona’s defensive squad didn’t stop there. After CSM’s second punt of the quarter, CSM’s Kalen Woods produced another scoop-and-score. With the Eagles at their own 10, Isaac Nishimoto fumbled and Woods picked it up and plowed into the end zone to give the Bulldogs a 24-0 lead.

From there, freshman quarterback Anthony Grigsby and the CSM offense took the reins. The Bulldogs were coming off a 30-28 loss at Butte College two weeks ago, with Grigsby enduring his worst game as a Bulldog, throwing four interceptions. Going into a bye week, the loss magnified CSM’s response.

“We had to stew in it for the last two weeks,” Tulloch said. “We got to sit in that loss and stew in it for the last two weeks, and for our guys, I love that they took it personal.”

Grigsby unloaded to the tune of 10-of-12 passing fort 161 yards and three touchdowns. All three of those TD throws came in the second quarter, two to Jeremiah Patterson (five catches for 78 yards) for 15 and 42 yards, and one to Anthony Freeman (four catches for 83 yards) for 43 yards.

“Anthony is such a tremendous leader,” Tulloch said. “His approach was, is, always phenomenal. And I knew what kind of game he was going to have by his week of practice.”

In the second half, CSM turned to backup quarterbacks Alex Grado and Raymond Price, who combined for three more scoring passes.

Grado was 7-of-11 passing for 129 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with Freeman for a 34-yard score with 8:56 remaining in the third quarter. He later opened the fourth quarter with a 10-yard scoring strike to KB Boone-Nelson. Price entered in the third quarter and fired a 22-yard scoring pass to Fidel Pitts.

Laney (0-1, 1-5) was paced by running back Simeon Milan, who totaled 17 carries for 101 yards rushing and one touchdown.

Tulloch said this week’s blowout win is reminiscent of last season. The Bulldogs suffered one loss in their state championship 2022 season, a 23-21 defeat at Diablo Valley College. CSM bounced back the next week with a 63-7 win over Chabot.

This year, a CSM roster with an extraordinary turnover from last year’s team, is following a similar trajectory.

“After we got through the first five non-conference games, we played five extremely physical, extremely talented teams, five of the best in Northern California,” Tulloch said. “And our biggest thing was continuing to build and get better each and every week. Conference play determines who gets into the playoffs, so we wanted to make sure we got off to a really good start in conference.”