Matthew Dziak / Staff Writer
Riverside City College football has been rejuvenated since the arrival of Coach Tom Craft in 2010, which beat his former team, the Mt. San Antonio College Mounties at home 29-26 in its undefeated season last year.
There is no need to compare apples to oranges however, that was then, and this is now.
In a showdown to decide the National Central Conference champion, RCC was outplayed in a devastating 25-0 shutout loss on Nov. 9, at Hilmer Lodge Stadium in Walnut, against the Southern California Football Association defending champions Mt. SAC.
Mt. SAC quarterback Nick Montana, son of San Francisco 49er’s legend Joe Montana, carved up Riverside’s secondary like a Thanksgiving turkey, throwing two of his three touchdowns in the first half.
The first came on the opening drive, when Montana found Dewayne Gatti in the corner of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown.
Montana completed 25-of-31 passes for 319 yards, more than doubling the total of RCC quarterback Zach Adkins.
Coming into the game, RCC led the conference in total offense but struggled in the first half, taking 14 minutes to muster a first down and managed to miss a 51-yard field goal.
Adkins completed 14-of-29 passes for only 126 yards and a late interception with one minute left that was returned 55-yards by Dennis Rufus for a touchdown. More alarming was the offensive line’s inability to prevent the Mounties’ pass rush from getting to Adkins before his receiver could get open.
Adkins was sacked a season-high five times and scrambled 16 times for only eight yards.
At a time when the team needed to come together and unite in a difficult road atmosphere, the offense was completely shutout, gaining only 195 yards of total offense.
Compared to the defense, the offensive unit was a letdown in both running and passing and lacked focus throughout the night.
“We were really inconsistent and it’s really disappointing to do it particularly late in the year,” Craft said.
The performance was beyond a disappointment, it was so incredibly uncharacteristic of the Tigers to lay an egg like this that the ceremonial face to palm by many RCC fans summed it up perfectly.
“It was a combination of things,” Craft said. “I have never seen it this way before but I have to give their defense a lot of credit.”
Maybe it was the frigid cold and swirling wind that the people of Riverside are not quite accustomed to.
Maybe it was the bombardment of roars from the hostile crowd, or DJ Truestar laying hip hop beats in every break of the game that distracted several Tigers who caught the dancing fever.
Whatever it was, it prevented RCC an opportunity to play in the SCFA playoffs, an opportunity that was the motive for RCC to join the more competitive National Central Conference for this season.
“I would hate to have the season end after we crawled and scraped back after the first game loss to Ventura with our backs against the wall the whole year.” Craft said. “We wielded off eight straight wins in a new conference and a tough schedule.”