If you blinked, you may have missed it.
In its first game at Hughes Stadium, the City College football team showed its home crowd what’s in store for the coming season, pulling off a 28-7 win Friday night over visiting Contra Costa College.
One minute was all it took for the Panthers to put up three quick touchdowns, spanning from the last moments of the first half to the second-half kickoff. They coupled that outburst with a stout defense, which made plays in every fashion, and earned their second straight victory to open 2017.
The Panther defense did just about everything that coach Dannie Walker could have asked for. They forced fumbles. They hurried and sacked the quarterback. They intercepted and broke up passes. They blocked punts and field goals. They stopped a 4th-and-goal attempt. They even scored — for the second straight week.
“We’ll take them any way we can get them. It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it,” said Walker. “The defense had continual effort. We struggled a little bit last week, but (tonight) we started playing our brand of football.”
The Panthers’ linebacker core, led by sophomore All-Big 8 linebacker Terrance March, controlled the middle of the field. Aarmon Euwing, Peyton Bailey and Angelo Aguilar spent most of their night blowing up run plays, tackling receivers and disrupting quarterback timing.
“Shout out to my defense,” said Euwing, who played his high school home games at Hughes Stadium for Christian Brothers High. “What impressed me the most is the consistency and the intensity the guys bring, especially bouncing back from last week when we got scored on a lot.”
Euwing had seven tackles to go along with a fumble recovery and a game-high three sacks. Chris Le had an interception, and Christian McFarland led the Panthers with 11 tackles.
Even with the defensive shutdown, City struggled to find an offensive rhythm. Nine of its drives ended in either a punt or a lost fumble. Quarterback Jayden Machado was 10-of-21 for a modest 152 yards.
“I think we had a lack of focus throughout the week,” said Machado of the offensive effort. “After that big win last week (against San Joaquin Delta), we got a little too complacent, and we didn’t prepare as well as we should have. I believe in the football gods, that superstition-type thing, and they got back at us just to settle us down.”
The Panthers scored three touchdowns over the course of one minute on the game clock, between the final minute of the first half and the second-half kickoff.
Bailey blocked a punt attempt by the Comets, scooped up the ball, and ran 24 yards to the house with 49 seconds left in the half. It was Bailey’s second straight week with a defensive touchdown.
The Panthers then recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt, and two plays later, Machado dumped a pass off to Isaiah Montanez, who scampered for a 26-yard score, upping the Panther lead to 21-7 just before the half. Tayvian Cunningham provided the second-half ignition with a 95-yard kickoff return to open the third quarter and give City a 28-7 advantage. It was Cunningham’s second kick return for a touchdown in as many games.
“Special teams really saved the game for us tonight,” said Walker. “We don’t like to pinpoint one out over the other, but we always try to say, ‘Do your job,’ and those guys really did their jobs tonight.”
The Comets struck first, with just under eight minutes to go in the first half. Semaj Mitchell’s punt return started Contra Costa in Panther territory. Four plays later, Davin Lemon-Rodriguez found Jonathan Thomas in the end zone for a leaping grab from 28 yards out, putting Contra Costa up 7-0.
On the very next offensive play from the Panthers, Daniel Wright bounced off a pair of tackles and sprinted 55 yards for the game-tying touchdown.
City College (2-0), coming off of a 55-38 trouncing of Stockton’s San Joaquin Delta College in the season-opener Sept. 2, also defeated the Comets 17-14 last September.
City College now prepares to host Modesto Junior College on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 6 p.m.
For more stats and info on SCC Football, visit sccpanthers.losrios.edu/sports/fball.