By Jair Ramirez
After winning the 2019 national championship behind their high-powered offense, the 2021 version of the RCC football team has their hard-hitting defense leading the way this year.
RCC defeated Saddleback College 33-6 behind an explosive defensive performance, holding Saddleback to just two field goals.
“We were opportunistic defensively tonight, RCC coach Tom Craft said. “We felt like going in that we were able to play good defense tonight and let the turnovers keep the game close and that’s exactly what happened.”
Sophomore linebacker Noa Purcell set the tone with his goal line tackle in the first quarter.
“We came together as defense, how we preached throughout the week,” Purcell said.
Freshman defensive lineman Talib Salahuddin led the team with eight tackles and a sack.
The Tigers secondary allowed just 119 passing yards and had three interceptions. Two interceptions were returned for a touchdown, first by freshman defensive back Demarco Moorer in the second quarter and then by freshman defensive back Carlton Johnson in the fourth quarter.
“Honestly just happy, it’s my first game back, it’s the first game back for a lot of us. Getting back on the field after two years,” Johnson said about the victory.
Sophomore kicker Ricardo Chavez showed off his big leg by making four out of five field goals including two from over 50 yards. Chavez also had four punts inside the 20-yard line, giving the Tigers a field position advantage throughout the game.
Penalties threatened to hurt RCC after they racked up 14 for 141 yards. Most of the penalties committed by RCC were after big hits which seemed to light a spark under the team and rattle Saddleback.
Coach Craft wasn’t too thrilled about the penalties committed.
“Penalties come from an inexperienced team and we’ve got to get better at that,” he said.
RCC’s offense showed potential but they still have some things to work on.