Comets remain unbeaten in PAC-7

Football squad set defensive tone early

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

The Comet football team returned from its bye week to successfully extend a three-game winning streak, knocking off Yuba College (3-3 overall, 2-1 in the Pacific 7 Conference) 48-21 Saturday afternoon at Comet Stadium.

Contra Costa College (5-1 overall, 2-0 in the Pacific 7) made good use of the week off, dialing up the offensive intensity, while working to reduce costly penalties that have plagued the team this season.

“I brought the wood to our team over the bye week. We challenged and disciplined them,” CCC coach Alonzo Carter said. “These guys have pride, and studying film makes players own their mistakes and take them more seriously.”

Discipline will be important as the team takes an overnight road trip to face the College of the Redwoods (2-4 overall, 1-2 in the Pacific 7) Saturday in Eureka at 1 p.m.

The defense set the tone against Yuba on Saturday, giving up only six yards to the 49ers in their first offensive series, forcing a punt and giving the offense a chance to make its presence felt early.

CCC quarterback Jonathan Banks’ first pass hung receiver Frank Stephens out to dry, leaving the receiver exposed to a hit that knocked the wind out of him. After catching his breath, Stephens left the field under his own power.

The early pressure was too much for the 49ers. The Yuba defensive line was baited into an offside call (on fourth down) that eventually led to a CCC running back Harold Holcombe III touchdown for the game’s first score at 11:05 in the first quarter.

Comet defender DeOnte Reynolds stuffed the run and controlled the line early. A defensive missed assignment in the CCC secondary allowed Yuba quarterback DaTwon Melvin to connect on a 63-yard strike. Setting up a short TD pass to Dylan Campbell, tying the score 7-7.

On the next Yuba offensive possession, running back Joseph Thurman played hot potato with the short pitch, fumbling the ball directly into the hands of defensive lineman Clarence Corbin. Corbin galloped into the end zone for the Comets’ first defensive score of the game.

The 49ers struck gold again quickly, completing a 67-yard touchdown pass, cutting the CCC lead to three at 17-14.

From the time Yuba scored, until 4:28 in the second quarter the teams exchanged punts. The 49ers even used its quarterback to punt in hopes of catching the CCC defense off guard. The punt-fest ended with Fonseca connecting on a short field goal with 4:28 remaining in the second quarter.

CCC’s defense smothered the 49er offensive efforts. A near interception saw defenders SirDevonta Stewart, Demarius Brison and Greg Chuks participate in an unsuccessful tip drill where all three had their hands on the ball, but none came away with the pick.

The ensuing 49er punt was blocked by Comet Lynn Simmons then returned for a TD by Jackson Finch.

Another Yuba punt, coupled with another 39-yard burst up the middle by Holcombe III, allowed Banks just enough time (9.1 seconds) to hook up with receiver Stephens to make the score 34-14 at halftime.

“We are coming together as a unit,” Holcombe III said. “We put in a lot of work on our own time- on non-practice days, so we could come in here and make plays.”

Yuba forced a CCC punt in the first series of the half. They rode the defensive momentum to a 15-play 81-yard scoring drive, punctuated by a two-yard TD, — the 49ers’ final score of the day.

With Yuba focused on Holcombe III, Banks orchestrated his best drive of the season. He scrambled for two first downs and spread the ball around to three different receivers, eventually connecting with Raquan Jones for a 19-yard touchdown reception.

“We set high goals for ourselves this week, rushing, passing and especially taking advantage of scoring opportunities,” Banks said.

The Comet defense ate every offensive plan the 49ers placed on the table. Even when a shin contusion caused Banks to fumble, the defense saw it as an opportunity to put an exclamation point on the game.

Yuba recovered the fumble in prime scoring position. A sputtering running game left no other option but going through the air. A 49er fourth down pass attempt was intercepted and returned 75 yards to the 23-yard line, giving CCC another opportunity to score.

Comet quarterback Emmanuel Williams came in to close the game out and threw an interception with his first pass attempt.

But the quarterback atoned for his mistake after another strong CCC defensive stand. Receiver Raenard McPhee gave a double move to Yuba defender Anthony Dugas, leaving the receiver all alone in the end zone to catch the afternoon’s final touchdown from Williams.

“Sometimes how you win games is important,” Carter said. “You want to be able to peak at the right time.”