RIVERSIDE -- Coming out on top in a wild shootout of a game, the No. 2-seeded Riverside City College (RCC) Tigers football team outlasted the visiting and No. 3-seeded Saddleback College Gauchos, 49-38, in the Southern California Bowl last Saturday (Nov. 19) at historic Arthur N. Wheelock Stadium on the RCC campus.
Riverside City (10-1 overall) will advance to the Southern California Football Association (SCFA) / Southern California Regional Championship game against the Fullerton College Hornets (10-1 overall) on Saturday, Nov. 26, at Yorba Linda High School's Nathan Shapell Stadium. As of this release, kickoff time has yet to be determined (but probably will be 1 p.m.). Fullerton was 4-1 in National Southern League play and won a share (with Saddleback) of the conference title.
No. 1-seeded Fullerton is coming off a 48-42 National Bowl win over the No. 4-seeded Ventura College Pirates last Saturday. In the all-time series, Riverside leads Fullerton, 36-25-1. In the last meeting between the two teams (Oct. 10, 2015), Fullerton won, 52-21, at Yorba Linda H.S. in a night game.
Saturday's winner will host the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) championship game on December 10.
Against Saddleback (9-2 overall) last Saturday, the defensive philosophy of "bend, but don't break" was probably in order. RCC led, 14-0, at the end of the first quarter, only to see the Gauchos tie the game, 14-14, with a pair of touchdowns one minute apart midway through the second quarter. Riverside led, 21-14, at halftime.
Sophomore tailback Eltoro Allen (Elk Grove / Elk Grove HS '15) put RCC on the scoreboard with a modest eight-yard TD run with 12:29 left in the first frame. Freshman place kicker John Hilfer (Redlands / Redlands East Valley HS '16) booted home the first of his two point after touchdown attempts and RCC led, 7-0.
Two minutes later, sophomore wide receiver Jacoby Herring (Riverside / Citrus Hill HS '15) snared an aerial over the middle from sophomore quarterback Collyn Anderson (Durham, NC / Hillside [NC] '12) and raced for a 63-yard TD reception with 10:17 left in the quarter. Hilfer's PAT kick made the score 14-0 in favor of RCC.
Saddleback freshman running back Edward Vander (J Serra HS), who would eventually have 18 carries for 129 ney yards rushing (zero for losses) and score three TDs, put the Gauchos on the board with an 18-yard TD run with 7:58 to play in the second quarter. Vander was named Saddleback's Player of the Game in this Southern California Bowl.
RCC sophomore linebacker Nick Underwood (Lake Oswego, OR / Lake Oswego, OR HS '14) was named Riverside's Player of the Game, thanks to eight total tackles (four solo) and one fumble recovery.
But the award could have been bestowed to any number of Tiger players and no one would have objected. Sophomore defensive back Kahani Smith (Los Angeles / Lakewood HS '15) had five total tackles (all solo), including one tackle for loss (for a minus eight yards), two interceptions, and a 33-yard fumble recovery for a TD which capped the scoring with 9:01 left in the game. Sophomore defensive back Manulani Hudson-Rasmussen (Tigard, OR / Tigard [OR] HS '14) had four total tackles (all solo), three pass breakups and two interceptions as well.
Each team scored a TD in the third quarter as RCC led, 28-21, entering what would be a frenzied fourth quarter.
The teams combined for 38 points in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, before going scoreless the rest of the game.
Allen finished with 27 carries for 187 net yards rushing (minus three in losses) with the one TD and a long gain of 29 yards. Sophomore tailback / punter Seth Acda (Murrieta / Vista Murrieta HS '15) had 20 totes for 90 net yards rushing (minus eight in losses) with a long gain of 20 yards. Puntingwise, Acda had seven kicks for 246 yards (35.1 average) with along of 45 yards and one punt travel inside the 20-yard line.
With 54 seconds left in the third quarter, Anderson completed a 37-yard TD pass to Herring to break a 21-21 tie. Sophomore place kicker Julian Castro (Las Vegas, NV / Legacy [NV] HS '14) kicked the second of his five PAT kicks to give RCC a 28-21 lead. Anderson left the game when he was injured on the TD pass as a Saddleback defensive lineman was assessed for a roughing the passer penalty. It took nine minutes to get Anderson on a gurney and wheeled off the field (and to a hospital). Anderson completed 11 of 22 passes with one interception for 225 yards and three TDs with a long gain of 63 yards. He was sacked three times. On nine carries he had 20 net yards rushing (16 yards for losses) with a long gain of 12 yards).
Sophomore quarterback Ian Fieber, who hails from just down the road at Saddleback (Mission Viejo HS), directed the Tigers' next two offensive TDs. Both went to sophomore wide receiver Darius Hunter (Prosper, TX), a 26-yard TD pass with 10:46 left and a 58-yard scoring strike with 9:19 left.
Herring had six receptions for 143 yards and three TDs with a long gain of 63 yards. Hunter also had six catches for 140 yards and two TDs with a long gain of 58.
For Saddleback, freshman quarterback Nick Robinson (J Serra HS) completed 22 of 49 passes with four interceptions for 390 yards and one TD and a long gain of 70 yards. Robinson was sacked four times. Freshman wide receiver Kuron Nelson (Long Beach / Woodrow Wilson HS) had a game-high nine receptions for 172 yards (with zero TDs) and a long gain of 69 yards.
Since the 2002 season when teams were allowed to include postseason games in their seasonal statistics, the Tigers are on the verge of having TWO one-thousand-yard rushers. In 11 games, Acda has 183 carries for 1,019 net yards rushing (only 30 yards in losses) with ten TDs and a long gain of 49 yards. Right behind is Allen with 136 totes for 956 net yards rushing (only 26 yards in losses) with eight TDs and a long gain of 77 yards.
Through 11 games, Anderson has completed 142 of 233 passes (60.9%) with three interceptions for 2,054 yards and 26 TDs (with a long gain of 65 yards). In nine games, Fieber has completed 83 of 140 passes (59.3%) with four interceptions for 1,011 yards and nine TDs (with a long gain of 77 yards).
Herring has 43 receptions for 663 yards (15.4 avg.) and five TDs, Malik Yoakum has 43 catches for 518 yards (12.0 avg.) and four TDs, Hunter has 36 nabs for a team-high 731 yards (20.3 avg.) and ten TDs, and sophomore wide receiver Dominique Maiden has caught 35 passes for 471 yards (13.5 avg.) and eight TDs.
Hilfer leads in kick scoring with 84 points (12 of 17 PAT kicks, 48 of 51 field goals. Acda leads in scoring with 72 points (12 TDs, includsing two receiving), followed by Hunter with 60 points.