By Nick Escalera
Through five games the Riverside City College Tigers are like a hit TV series with the same cast of players, plot, and recurring theme.
The No.1 state ranked Tigers put it together to stay undefeated at 5-0 with their 31-16 victory over the Cerritos College Falcons on Oct. 1.
In the first four games Riverside has scored a measly three total first quarter points coming into the week. That slow trend would continue against the Falcons, but the Tigers tremendous defense kept the game scoreless highlighted by a huge interception from linebacker Nick Underwood in the red zone.
“That’s how we practice and play, always fast and physical, swarming to the ball. It was just right place right time and I happened to make the play on the ball,” Underwood said.
It wasn’t until just under six minutes were left in the first quarter that quarterback Collyn Anderson was able to find wide receiver Adrian Hughes for the 20-yard touchdown for the first score of the game at 7-0.
The Tigers defense would once again have the offenses’ back when defensive back Brandon Brooks would intercept a Falcons pass just 3 plays into the series setting them up in great field position.
“The impact the defense has on this team is phenomenal, we go over situations like that everyday in practice,” Anderson said.
Running back Seth Acda has been a key contributor to the Tigers success and he would continue that with a 1-yard run for the touchdown extending the lead to 14-0 over the Falcons.
Acda had another huge game rushing for 112-yards on 22 carries while also having two receptions for 15-yards totalling out to 127 all purpose yards.
“(Acda) does so much, he can catch, he can run, great blocker on protections, and he’s our punter now. He is just a real heady guy,” coach Tom Craft said.
Riverside early in the second quarter started their drive right around mid field, but the top 10 state ranked Falcons defense held the Tigers to a 28-yard field goal by kicker John Hilfer.
“That’s a good defense (Cerritos), top defense in the national division. We did a good job against them outside the holding penalties that just kind of stalled us a bit,” Craft said.
After a strange punt return by the Tigers that lead to a Falcons safety and a defensive stop, the ball was back in Riverside’s possession and so began the penalties.
Penalties have daunted the Tigers throughout the season averaging 14.6 penalties per game putting them in the top 5 for most in the state and 142.2 yards per game at 3rd.
The Tigers saw five penalties called against them in their final drive of the first half preventing them from extending the lead and putting it in the hands of their high powered defense to hold off the Falcons up 17-2 heading into the half.
Riverside would start the second half with the ball and continued where the first half ended with a second straight drive being slowed down because of penalties giving the ball right back to the Falcons.
“The bye comes at a great time right now where we can not have a game to worry about and we can focus where our hand placement is and not hang on to the jersey when guys change directions,” Craft said.
Riverside’s defense once again put the team on their back shutting down the Cerritos offense and putting themselves in great field position.
The Tigers’ offense this time around capitalized on it thanks to El Toro Allen’s only touchdown of the game for 19-yards putting their lead at 24-2.
For about a few minutes to end the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter the defense showed a little sign of letting off the gas pedal allowing back to back Falcons touchdown receptions going for 29-yards by wide receiver Matt Rosales and 61-yards from WR Stacy Chukwumezie cutting the Tigers lead to 24-16.
“We felt like our defense played well tonight, (Cerritos) have struggled offensively not scoring a lot of points, so we expected to hold them down. We knew we might get beat once or twice with substitutes but overall we could contain them,” Craft said.
Contain them they did as the Tigers defense held the Falcons top rusher Kishawn Holmes to just 58-yards on the ground and quarterback Nick Mitchell to 206 passing yards picking him off twice.
Collyn Anderson ended the scoring with a 28-yard touchdown reception to WR Dominique Maiden, giving Anderson his second of the game and the Tigers the 31-16 victory. Anderson finished with 241-yards passing completing 18 of 30 pass attempts and also rushed for 15.
The Riverside Tigers will now go into a bye week as they prepare for their first division matchup as they travel to Chaffey College to take on the Panthers at Grigsby Field Oct. 15.