PITTSBURG — In commanding fashion, the football team beat Los Medanos College (3-4 overall, 1-3 in the Pacific-7 Conference) here on Saturday in a victorious effort that included every unit.
The Comets (1-7 overall, 1-3 Pac-7) ended a 17-game losing streak that dated back to the 2016 season with a 41-6 road victory over the Mustangs, and played efficiently in all three phases of the game.
Offense, defense and special teams all contributed to the win.
What stood out in the victory was the rate at which the offense was able to produce yards through the air and on the ground.
Maintaining offensive balance has been a point of inconsistency for the team all season.
“Our staff did a wonderful job of getting these guys prepared,” coach Pat Henderson said.
“Each week provides a different challenge. (The team) did a good job of dissecting LMC and making sure to improve in the areas we needed to improve upon.”
The Comets will look to double their win total Saturday at Comet Stadium against conference rival Foothill College at 1 p.m. And despite the bad start to the season, Contra Costa College will get an opportunity to jump into third place with a win over Foothill in the six-team conference.
If CCC manages to win its last two games of the season, the team can possibly fall into second place if De Anza College can beat Yuba College on Nov. 10.
Quarterback Riley Lee has seen most of the time under center for CCC since starting quarterback Jalen Tregel went down with a foot injury.
The injury to Tregel, which occurred Sept. 22 against College of the Redwoods in Eureka, put Lee into the tough situation of trying to lead the young Comet offense with little experience.
Henderson said quarterback Lee has grown a lot over the season and that he has learned from his mistakes.
“That’s what you’re supposed to do. You live, you make mistakes and the best thing you can do is learn from them,” Henderson said.
During Saturday’s win, the five starters on the offensive line rarely got rest. But impressively, they kept hustling to create time for the passing game and to open up holes for the running backs.
“We only had five o-linemen (offensive linemen) all game. They toughed it out, even in the heat,” Lee said.
After struggling in games earlier this season, Lee has now cemented his place in the offense. Saturday, in his most impressive start this season, Lee completed 13 of 25 passes and threw for two touchdowns.
The ability of the Comets to move the ball passing allowed their running game to excel later in the game.
As a team, the Comets are more experienced on the defensive side of the ball, which helped the team bounce back after an early Mustang score.
With nine minutes to play in the first quarter, the Mustangs took a 6-0 lead on a 6-yard touchdown pass.
“When we (the defense) got back to the sideline we were so fed up about them scoring,” Comet linebacker RJ Ma’ae said.
But a second quarter Comet drive was an efficient five-play, 66-yarder where they took a 7-6 lead and looked like the more focused team.
That possession was capped off by a beautiful fade pass from Lee, who was demolished by two Mustang defenders right after the throw.
He completed the throw while rolling to his right under extreme pressure.
Comet wide receiver Terique Owens fought for the ball and snatched it away in the back of the end zone from two Mustang defensive backs.
He did this while tip-toeing and adjusting his feet and weight to keep from falling out of bounds.
Ma’ae said the team collectively wanted to win and that they were able to play as a family and with “no egos.”
That selfless work ethic allowed the Comets to earn their blowout victory.
“The student-athletes all bought in,” assistant football coach Tim Johnson said. “We saw they use many formations and motions and that’s what we worked on in practice.”
CCC’s defensive game plan led to a successful afternoon where the team managed to all but completely stop the Mustang running game.
By stopping the run, the LMC offense became predictable and allowed CCC to hunker down in the secondary and create turnovers.
“It was a great team effort,” Johnson said.
“As coaches, we have all won before. So to see these guys, especially the sophomores who were here last year (when the team went 0-9) finally get a win, it’s exciting,” he said.