Written by: Alec Calvillo
After three games in the season, the Riverside City College football team remains the No.1 ranked team in the Southern California’s national division according to a California Community College Football Coach poll.
The Tigers do not play again until Oct. 3 versus El Camino, following a bye-week.
The RCC running game can be considered a big part of the team’s season success, led by Christopher Anderson. He continues to be key as the Tigers’ running backs combined for 635 yards in home wins versus Grossmont and Saddleback.
The game against Grossmont was tightly contested until the last minute. The home team forced a punt late in the fourth quarter, which sealed RCC’s two-point victory, winning by only two points.
The No.3 ranked defense in points allowed would shut down the Tigers in their first couple of drives. They would also allow two first quarter touchdowns and fall behind by 14 points.
The lead would not last long as Tigers’ quarterback Kevin Olsen answered back with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Evan Rodriguez.
With little time left in the first quarter the Tigers’ defense would have a significant play with a sack from defensive lineman Kennedy Kodua and a fumble recovery from defensive back Isaiah Armstrong.
The forced turnover gave the Tigers just enough time to score another touchdown by sophomore running back Dontel James to end the first quarter and tie the game 14 a piece.
With time winding down in the second quarter, Olsen completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jajuan Thomas, for a touchdown to put RCC up 10 points at halftime, 24-14.
The momentum would shift toward Grossmont in the fourth quarter when Olsen’s pass would be intercepted by Grossmont’s Nick Galatis and returned for a 41-yard touchdown to bring Grossmont only two points away from the Tigers.
“He made some bad decisions tonight and he hasn’t played in a couple of years,” Craft said. “I’m sure the game experience is going to be good for him and looking at tape (but) I think he’ll get better. We tried to open things up a little more tonight, he was good at times but it’s not where we want it yet.”
The close ending showed a lot of flaws in both the offensive game and defensive game. There were two interceptions on offense that led to two Grossmont touchdowns and 11 penalties in total.
Unlike the close game against Grossmont, on Sept. 12, the Tigers took on the Saddleback Gauchos with great offense in the first half and clutch defense in the second half to hold off Saddleback from coming back into the game.
The Tigers opening play would end up being a key momentum builder for their first half success.
Tareke Lewis got the Tigers on the board with a 99-yard kickoff return touchdown, giving the team an early 7-0 lead.
“Anytime you can have a kick off like that to start the game, there is no question that it helped us,” Craft said.
The Tigers would end the second quarter with two key touchdowns, one from Olsen connecting with KJ Young for a 23-yard pass and another from Anderson who completed the 9-yard touchdown.
The momentum from the offense would shift to the defensive end in the second half, as Saddleback would try to test the Tigers’ defense.
Saddleback would only score 10 points in the second half, as the Tigers’ defense would prevail against sophomore quarterback Johnny Stanton.
Linebacker AJ Hotchkins, contributed defensively with 12 tackles.
Much like the Grossmont game, the Tigers would be set back by countless penalties.
“We got a little sloppy in the second half and the penalties gave them life on both of their touchdown drives,” Craft said. “We played good defense in the first half but I’m not pleased with the penalties at all offense, defense and special teams. I thought we ran the ball well at times but we didn’t run well when we wanted to run it.”
The Tigers defeated Saddleback, 38-18, the top performers of the game would be Anderson and Olsen as they finished with a combined 295 yards.