Team wins despite exposing flaws

Penalties, mistakes mar otherwise impressive Comet victory

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

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The football team let an opportunity to dominate slip through its grasp, instead settling for a mere 10-point win, 44-34, against the College of the Redwoods (2-5 overall and 1-3 in the Pac 7) Saturday at Comet Stadium.
Highlight quality plays that define why Contra Costa College (7-0 overall and 3-0 in the Pac 7) remains unbeaten happened early and often for the squad.
They were only overshadowed by the number of bonehead penalties that left officials no option but to litter the field with flags from the beginning to the end of the contest.
The Comets committed more penalties for more yards than in any game this season (19 for 258 yards).
Despite CCC receiver Sterling Taylor (two receptions for 20 yards and one touchdown) setting the tone for the afternoon by making an implausible interception-saving touchdown grab on the team’s first drive, the Comets had a hard time getting out of their own way.
Taylor said, “The defender had both hands on the ball so I jumped and reached over his head and took the ball out of his hands. By the time I landed I had already turned around and was heading to the end zone.”
The touchdown was the first of the day for Comet quarterback Cameron Burston who finished 12-20 for 260 yards and four touchdowns. He also added two rushing TDs.
CCC expected to get a healthy dose of Corsair running back Ra’quan Dickens, ranked first in the Pac 7 in rushing touchdowns with nine.
Following the Taylor touchdown, it was Dickens who got the first crack at the CCC defense.
But that crack was ultimately delivered by Comet linebacker Ted Noble who also came away with the ball after a Dickens’ fumble.
Despite big plays the squad still sputtered. Mental errors allowed the Corsairs more chances to remain in the game.
A 73-yard Redwood touchdown on a catch and run to Dickens on fourth down gave the visiting team life and also tied the score at 7-7.
The drive was kept alive by a CCC penalty that virtually opened the floodgates for inopportune, game-altering infractions.
“I need ballplayers. I need one unit. I need heart,” CCC coach Alonzo Carter said. “It can’t be measured by statistics either. You have it or you don’t.”
Burston answered on the following drive by completing a 92-yard touchdown connection to his most reliable target, Frank Stephens, giving the Comets a 14-7 lead.
Defensively the Comets held their own as evidenced by the high tackle totals for linebackers (25) on the day.
The visitors needed only to follow the flags on their longest drive of the half — a 13-play, 75-yard, penalty-aided trek that ended in a 1-yard rushing touchdown.
With the game knotted at 14 after the first quarter it was the CCC defense that looked to take control of the contest.
Big tackles for Corsair losses by brothers Chima and Chibu Onyeukwu were no match for internal mistakes.
Even a Comet interception by safety Rodney Washington, returned 85 yards for a touchdown, was no match for the Comets’ ability to make mistakes.
That score was waived off following a Comet penalty and the drive eventually ended in a punt.
Despite CCC making plays all over the field, the game was still tied at 14 midway through the second quarter.
Not until a 1-yard Burston touchdown run did the Comets seem to get on track.
Leading 21-14, CCC mistakes overshadowed its talent once again. A 5-yard sack by linebacker Justin Mills was no match for a penalty that eventually led to another Dickens score, tying the game at 21 with 2:53 left in the half.
The Comets answered with Burston scampering down the right sideline spinning around defenders and hurdling a would-be tackler at the goal line to give CCC the go-ahead score before halftime.
At the half the Comets led 28-21.
For CCC, its only third quarter scores came on touchdown passes to tight ends Jaelen Collins and Xavier Nelson.
The defense played lights out in the third quarter, blanking the Corsairs.
The team ended the third quarter with a 41-21 lead.
“When we get ahead, sometimes we lose focus and teams take advantage of that,” Burston said.
With play unbecoming of a championship caliber team, the Comets allowed two Redwoods touchdowns in the fourth quarter and earned no trips to the end zone for themselves, tightening the score at 41-34. A late Comet field goal ended the scoring.
Comet coaches and players agree that the number of mental errors and the frequency in which they occur is alarming, especially this late in the season.
The first place Comets return to the field Saturday at 6 p.m. to face the Pac 7’s second place team, Shasta College (5-2 overall, 2-1 in the Pac 7), in Redding.

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