By Peter Gibbs
There was domination in the championship game. Just not by the Tigers.
The Riverside City College football team lost 55-0 to the College of San Mateo Bulldogs in the California Community College Athletic Association Championship game on Dec. 10.
Heavy rain and steady winds is not something the Tigers are used to. It was clear the team was not prepared to play in that type of weather while San Mateo saw it as just another game.
From the opening kickoff RCC was outplayed in every aspect.
San Mateo began the game by returning the kickoff 61 yards as multiple Tigers struggled to gain traction in the wet conditions. Three plays later the Bulldogs scored.
The offense couldn’t get anything going either.
Each of the first three drives resulted in three-and-outs and after the first quarter the lead was 21-0 for the Bulldogs.
“We came into the game leading the state in total offense,” head coach Tom Craft said. “It just wasn’t our day.”
Any chance of a comeback was lost when quarterback Jake Retzlaff fumbled on the first drive of the second half. It was one of five turnovers by RCC.
“Our quarterback had tonsillitis, but that’s not an excuse,” Craft said. “It was just an unusual situation.”
Retzlaff confirmed through direct message that he had tonsillitis throughout the week.
“I was bedridden for over 24 hours before the game,” Retzlaff said. “Being sick is one thing, but being sick, wet and cold is something entirely different.”
The weather conditions and being sick clearly affected Retzlaff as he was inaccurate and unable to get into a rhythm.
Eventually, coach Craft pulled the starters and elected to play the bench players in the fourth quarter, essentially waving the white flag.
“Our kids work extremely hard,” San Mateo head coach Tim Tulloch said. “They prepared hard for this. But it’s not just this week, it’s how they approached everything all year.”
The Bulldogs were able to attack the RCC defense by running laterally, which led to multiple plays of 20 or more yards.
“They (RCC) do a phenomenal job,” Tulloch said. “I saw a heck of a football team (on film). Today was just our day.”
Running back Ezra Moleni set a new rushing record for the Bulldogs with 232 yards on 16 carries..
This is the end of a historic season for the Tigers in which the team went 12-1 and was the Southern California Football Association champions.
However, RCC will be losing a large amount of talent as players transfer to higher-level schools.
“At this level, you’ve got to rebuild every year,” Craft said. “There will be a complete reload.”
The Tigers will look to bring in graduating high schoolers as well as try to find another Jake Retzlaff from the transfer portal to try and make it back to the state championship for the fourth consecutive time next year.
“We had a great year,” Craft said. “We’re going to continue to do what we do. We’ll be alright.”