By Dalila Romero
The Riverside City College football team moves its record up to 2-0 in their return to Wheelock Stadium with a fiery win over Golden West College 40-15.
The energy was high going into the game being the first home game in over a year.
“We were really glad to be back at (RCC) and not have to travel,” Riverside head coach Tom Craft said. “We were really thankful that our administration is committed to improving our field, so were really happy with it.”
The Tigers played all of last season’s home games at Ramona High School’s football field.
“The difference was we are at home, it’s time to take it over,” sophomore running back Byrce Strong said. “This is our field, and our first time playing on it and we had to win this one to make a statement.”
Even with a new stadium, RCC struggled to find a rhythm in the first quarter. The Tigers found themselves punting the ball away multiple times and Golden West held RCC scoreless to end the first quarter.
“It was the formation, opening our formations up and spreading the field,” Craft said.
The second quarter was a game changer for the Tigers. After making adjustments to strategies that were not working positive results were seen almost immediately.
With eleven minutes to go in the second quarter sophomore quarterback Jordan Barton would connect to sophomore wide receiver Norion Espadron for a 33-yard passing touchdown. These were the Tigers first points of the game.
“It felt amazing,” Espadron said. “We had a slow start and I knew once we got one big play we would start rolling.”
The Tigers second quarter success did not stop there and went on to score seventeen points after the touchdown.
RCC’s defense came out of the end of the first quarter timeout determined and focused.
“The defense being resilient,” sophomore defensive lineman Marcus Jones said. “Not settling and acting like the score is 0-0.”
The Tigers would close out the first half of play in control of the Rustlers, 24-6.
After regrouping with coach Craft during halftime, the Tigers out of the locker room dominating till the final play.
“We were faster than them and it showed,” Strong said “We came out of halftime ready to run and they weren’t.”
The Tigers were able to defeat the Rustlers in a game that seemed close in the first quarter but would break open into a Tigers home opener blow out.
“If we can keep up the tempo, pick up the intensity in practice,” Jones said. “I think we will be able to execute throughout the rest of the season.”
RCC will take on El Camino College at Wheelock Stadium on Sept. 16.