Comets dazzle in season opener
Running game, stiff defense lead CCC to first win
Comet running back Rashad Hall (left) stiff arms Lobo defensive back Sarladine Connally (middle) at Monterey Peninsula College on Saturday. George Morin / The Advocate
MONTEREY — The Comet football team opened its season Saturday night with a victory on the road, a sense of family and a talented display of confidence, which it hopes to sustain.
Contra Costa College (1-0 overall, 0-0 in Bay Valley Conference) took its first step to a season it hopes will end with a conference championship with a 40-20 bulldozing of Monterey Peninsula College (0-1).
CCC running back Rashad Hall rushed for an 86-yard touchdown to put the Comets up 34-13 early in the fourth quarter, essentially securing the victory.
"I've got to give it to my offensive line," Hall said of his run up the middle of the faltering MPC defense. "I just saw the hole and ran it."
The freshman accounted for 174 rushing yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns against the Lobos.
"We have a lot of talent and depth this year," CCC coach Alonzo Carter said after a brief moment of tears following the game's conclusion. "We just need to mesh our talent into the scheme."
The Comets need to strengthen that scheme for their rivalry match against Diablo Valley College at 3 p.m. Saturday at Comet Stadium.
Although starting quarterback Jeffery Anderson said his team is better than the Vikings, Hall said the Comets found issues they need to address after the MPC game, including catching passes and running for positive yardage.
"We'll get it done," Hall said.
Lobos quarterback David Fales threw for two quick touchdowns over the Comet defense in the first quarter. He finished the game passing for 274 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
The CCC defense, however, stopped the Lobos rushing game, limiting MPC to 79 yards on 29 attempts.
"We switched the defense up in the second half," Carter said. "We have a better defense this year in numbers and talent."
Second-string quarterback Lamar McKnight gave the Comets a 40-13 lead in the fourth quarter after an eye-opening 90-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Ronald Butler.
McKnight replaced Anderson to start the second half, although Anderson eventually returned and McKnight finished the game.
"Jeff is teaching me a lot and we worked well getting reps in together (in practice and the game)," the freshman said.
McKnight passed for 106 yards and one touchdown. He also had a 20-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
Anderson finished with 114 yards passing on 13 attempts, including one touchdown and an interception.
"We wanted to get Lamar in during the beginning of the second half," Carter said. "He's new, but I have confidence in him."
Down 7-0 early in the game, Tate Mustin returned a kickoff 80 yards to score CCC's first points and tie the game.
The Comets took a 14-13 lead when Hall rushed for a 5-yard touchdown with 29 seconds left in the first half.
"We were a powerhouse going into the second half," Anderson said.
In the second half, McKnight rushed for his 20–yard touchdown and Anderson threw a screen to wide receiver Phadrae White for an 18-yard run to the end zone giving the Comets a 27-13 lead.
Ascending from a poor 2009 season, finishing 1-9 overall, to finishing 4-6 in 2010, Carter brought drastic improvements with him since becoming the team's coach.
Part of CCC's improvement and talent this year, including both freshman Hall's rushing yards and McKnight's passing, can be attributed to the team's close–knit family bond.
"I definitely feel the big improvement," Hall said. "We got together like a family this summer and grew closer."
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