The day began with a bad omen.
Driving through snowy conditions on the way to Feather River College in Quincy, California, tire chains were already in place when the team bus driver heard a pop. By the time the bus pulled over, one of the tires had gone off its wheel. After two straight losses, this was the last thing head football coach Dannie Walker and company needed.
The last two weeks had already been a deflating skid for the City College football team. If that weren’t enough, the Nov. 4 game against the Golden Eagles would be delayed more than two hours while half of the City College team sat stuck in the snow.
But the players kept their cool, engaging in snowball fights while the wheel was repaired. The snowy road finally led to a mud-soaked field at Feather River College, where City’s defense and special teams snowballed an early lead into a 42-14 victory.
Defensive back Chris Le got things started with a pick-six early in the first quarter. Le had three interceptions in the game. Peyton Bailey’s punt block allowed Nathan Villalobos to score on the recovery. Terrance March returned a 62-yard fumble recovery for a score, and Dustin Arango’s second interception of the year turned into a 15-yard touchdown.
Tre Bussey ran for 120 yards, and Graylon Lindsey’s 116 rushing yards made him the fourth Panther to rush for over 100 yards in a game this season. Lindsey also scored on a 19-yard run.
Jayden Machado, who was dealing with a mild ankle injury, returned after a one-game absence. Machado only needed 131 yards on 4-of-8 passing to help the Panthers offensively. Jordan Moore caught two of those four passes for 110 yards, including an 81-yard score that gave City a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
The win was a much-needed response to a rough couple of weeks.
City (7-2, 2-2 NorCal) navigated through the first seven weeks of the season as one of three unbeaten teams in California. After beginning the season 6-0, the Panthers lost two straight games. American River College, the top-ranked team in Northern California, handed City its first loss of the season Oct. 21, 38-24, and the Panthers fell again 47-13 on Oct. 28 at the College of the Siskiyous.
The message head coach Dannie Walker has always echoed in these situations is to focus on the lessons learned after a loss. Walker says it’s how the team responds, not after wins, but after defeat, that shows great character.
“It’s a test of who you are as a man,” Walker said after the loss to ARC. “It’s about your ability to handle adversity.”
During the Panthers’ loss at Siskiyous, Eagle quarterback Gage Ferguson threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns while the Siskiyous defense forced three City turnovers. The loss dropped the Panthers to 1-2 in conference play and 6-2 overall.
City started freshman Daylon Matthews at quarterback for the first time this season while Machado rested his ankle. Matthews went 16-for-32 with 172 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions in the starting role for the Panthers. His lone TD pass went to Isaiah Montanez from 8 yards out, making the score 10-7, Siskiyous early in the second quarter.
Siskiyous piled on, scoring 23 more points in the second half. The Eagles outgained the Panthers 528-263 in total yardage, on their way to a 2-1 record in the NorCal Conference.
The Eagles have won two straight against the Panthers. City had won seven of the past 10 meetings between the teams.
Carl Marc led City with five receptions for 78 yards against Siskiyous. Graylon Lindsey rushed six times for 58 yards. And Terrance March led the way defensively with 10 tackles.
The Panthers will be relieved to not travel for any more regular season games, at least. City returns home for its regular season finale Nov. 11 against Butte College at 4 p.m.
For more stats and info on SCC football, visit sccpanthers.losrios.edu/sports/fball.