Pivotal offensive rally secures win
Published: Monday, November 5, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 15:11
The word that best describes the 2012 Contra Costa College football is resilient, especially after its pivotal come-from-behind win against Mendocino College at home on Saturday.
Trailing Mendocino 38-21 with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Comets scored 20 unanswered points to secure a heart-stopping 41-38 win over the Eagles and take over sole possession of first place in the Bay Valley Conference.
“All I can say (about this game) is wow. I’m proud of my guys and how they persevered,” Comet coach Alonzo Carter said. “That was the most emotional game I’ve coached in my 20 years of coaching football.”
CCC (5-3, 3-0 in the BVC) overtook the Eagles (3-5 overall, 2-1 in the BVC) in the fourth quarter behind the efforts of both its offense and defense giving the team its third consecutive victory.
The Comets came out strong early scoring the first points of the game when sophomore running back Rashad Hall ran in a 5-yard touchdown, his first of three scores.
The Eagles responded by capitalizing on three CCC defensive penalties that led to a 4-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Aaron Dhuyvetter from quarterback Kyle Harmyk.
Mendocino added another score on its next offensive drive when Harmyk bulleted a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Desmon Powers.
CCC’s defensive penalties played a factor in both Eagle touchdowns. In the first half alone the Comets committed 13 penalties compared to Mendocino’s two.
By the end of the game, CCC totaled 19 penalties while the Eagles were whistled for seven.
“There were a lot of cheap shots on the field,” Carter said. “(Penalties) hurt because they take away from our momentum.”
The penalties also derailed the Comets offensively, particularly in the first half.
Several big plays were called back due to infractions, forcing the squad to settle for two field goals in the second quarter.
CCC trailed the Eagles 14-13 at halftime.
The Comets remained in a slump in the third quarter, allowing another Eagle touchdown while failing to gain an offensive rhythm.
The team’s lack of offense forced Carter to bench quarterback Lamar McKnight in the third quarter for backup Taylor Valdez.
“(Lamar) was making bad reads, which is why I had to sit him,” Carter said.
The Eagles extended their lead to 24-13 with a field goal at the end of the third quarter.
While the offense continued to sputter early in the fourth quarter, CCC’s defense forced a turnover when sophomore defensive back Anthony Beaver Jr. tipped a Harmyk pass and pulled down an interception, his fourth of the season.
“That pick was amazing. Coach O (Yelverton) told us to make a play on defense,” Beaver said. “The offense was able to make a play right after — it was like a domino effect.”
After the interception, Carter re-inserted McKnight and the Comets scored quickly when Hall broke off a 27-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion cut the Eagles’ lead to 24-21.
“Mendocino’s defense did a good job keying in on our good offensive players and played physical,” Hall said.
“I noticed that they were overloaded on one side of the field so I bounced it outside and was able to score. I thank my offensive line and fullback Kier Malone for making that play happen.”
So far this season Hall has rushed for 957 yards and 12 touchdowns.
After Hall’s touchdown, Mendocino answered by scoring two consecutive TDs to take a decisive 38-21 lead.
Trailing by 17 points after Mendocino running back Geno Poloni punched in a 1-yard touchdown run with 9:17 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Comets began their 20-point offensive surge on their next possession when McKnight bolted past the entire Eagle defense for a 50-yard touchdown run.
McKnight’s touchdown seemed to give life to the team and cut Mendocino’s lead to 38-27.
“(Being behind) by 17 points, we had to look ourselves in the mirror and figure out what to do to come out with the win,” McKnight said. “Our offensive linemen did a good job blocking. That was my first rushing touchdown of the season.”
The Comet defense fed off of McKnight’s run as it gave the offense the ball back on the Mendocino’s next drive when sophomore defensive back Tyran Finley nabbed an interception, one of the squad’s four interceptions for the game.
“The secondary’s (strong play) came on cue as they made big interceptions,” Carter said. “We’ve played well defensively this season.
The Comet defense ranks first in the state in points allowed (122) and second in the state with 20 interceptions. Finley’s crucial pick set up CCC for another score as Hall broke off a 41-yard run, which he followed with a 5-yard touchdown run.
At this point, the Comets, who were unable to convert on another two-point conversion, trailed the Eagles 38-33 with six minutes remaining in the game.
Mendocino made a questionable decision on its next drive when the squad decided to punt the ball on third down as it was pinned on its own 13-yard line.
On first down with the ball placed on their 27-yard line, McKnight found Comet wide receiver Ronald Butler wide open on a streak route for a 73-yard touchdown.
The Comets converted on the two-point conversion and CCC had its first lead since the opening quarter, 41-38.
“I tried finding Ron on that play four times (prior) this game, but each time I overthrew him,” McKnight said.
“I just told the coaches to have Lamar throw me the ball,” he said. “We were not going to lose this game.”
The Comets have two BVC games remaining in the season.
They look to use their comeback win as momentum when they go on the road to face College of the Redwoods (3-5 overall, 0-3 in the BVC) in Eureka Saturday at 1 p.m. Both Carter and his players agreed that the comeback victory was an important win for the team as well as the program.
“I’ve been playing football for 12 years and this game was the biggest of my life,” McKnight said.
Beaver said, “We didn’t give up and I’m proud of my teammates. This was a big win and it puts us a step closer to playing in a bowl game.”