It was a disappointing end to an equally disappointing season.
The Cougars went into Saturday’s game hoping to salvage their season with a win over their bitter rivals, the Bakersfield College Renegades. The rain had stopped and the skies cleared, everything pointed towards a great night of football.
Through most of the first quarter both teams engaged in a battle of the defenses, neither team moving the football on offense. Bakersfield was the first team to put points on the board on a 38 yard run by Mustaafa Cobb, beating Curtiss McCann in a footrace for the endzone with 47 seconds left in the 1st quarter. Cobb ended the night with 17 carries for 90 yards and a score. Renegades lead 7-0.
In the second quarter COC answered with a touchdown of their own. On 2nd and 4 on the Renegade 37 yard line, Cougar QB, Chris Rini dropped back and lofted a ball deep to Vincent Neilson. The 6’1″ freshman out of Palmdale tipped the ball in the air and miraculously reeled in the ball in the endzone for his first career touchdown.
The next drive Bakersfield QB Brian Duboski hit Darius Tubbs from 22 yards out to put the Renegades back on top, 14-7 with 3:27 left in the first half.
After forcing Bakersfield to punt from inside their own 10, the cougars got the ball back at the Renegades’ 42 yard-line with 1:50 to go before halftime. After driving down into the red zone, Rini found Neilson once again to tie the game. Neilson ended the night with a career best 5 receptions for 91 yards and 2 touchdowns.
In the opening drive of the second half, the Renegades wasted no time with Duboski finding his favorite target, Darius Tubbs who easily beat Jarrod Tryon for the jump ball to put BC buck up by 7. Tubbs accumulated 5 catches for 83 yards and a pair of scores on the night.
The very next play, Chris Rini’s pass was picked off by Taiyon Jackson. Jackson escaped from the grasps of Matt Szymanski and Jamie Wilson and took the ball back 40 yards for the pick six.
COC needed to respond and they did. Chris Rini found Frankie Madero, the 6’2″ sophomore from West Ranch, in the endzone from 7 yards out to keep the Cougars alive. Madero tallied 54 yards on 4 catches and 1 TD.
On the kickoff return, Sio Folaumoeloa knocked the ball away from the Bakersfield returner and dove on the loose football. Chris Rini capitalized on the turnofer takeing the ball in himself from 4 yards out on the draw play. Tie ballgame. Rini, the 6’3″ sophomore from Key Largo, Florida completed 26 of 57 passes for 326 yards and 4 touchdowns with 2 interceptions.
The Renegades started off the 4th quarter with a 37 yard field goal by Tyler Schliecher and a 3 yard touchdown run by Quinten Cheatham, putting BC up by 10. The Cougars tried to respond but Tyler Doggins picked off Rini’s pass and took it to the house. Cougars now down by 17.
But the Cougars weren’t going to go down quietly, Chris Rini and Jerrel Jordan hooked up for an 11 yard score to give COC a chance. Unfortunately for the Cougars, Bakersfield recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock on the Cougars’ season.
Photography by Cory Rubin, Tyler Rubin and Kristian McAdams