Penalties doom Comets in home opener

Team loses to Sacramento City College, drop consecutive games for first time since 2013

Football coach Alonzo Carter seeks clarification from the referees after a penalty call against the Comets during CCC’s 17-14 loss to Sacramento City College at Comet Stadium on Saturday.

By Anthony Kinney, Advocate Staff

The football team (0-2) continued its gloomy start to the season after suffering its second straight loss to Sacramento City College (2-0) in its home opener Saturday in Comet Stadium.

The Comets fell to the Panthers 17-14.

It was the first time the team has lost back-to-back games since its days in the Bay Valley Conference back in 2013.

After two games, the team sits in an unfamiliar position at the bottom of the National Bay 6 Conference.

The Comets get a chance to end the losing trend, traveling to Rocklin to play Sierra College (0-2 overall) Saturday.

“It is football. It is aggressive and it gets no easier,” coach Alonzo Carter said.

The loss came after a hard- fought defensive game that resulted in the Comets losing a 14-7 lead at halftime leading to an eventual three-point loss.

An abundance of penalties and an untimely fumble by Comet quarterback Cameron Burston helped secure the win for the Panthers.

The Comets accumulated a total of 18 penalties Saturday which cost the team a staggering 187 yards.

In contrast, Sacramento had seven penalties for the entire game.

The Panthers scored first on running back Tyree Hanson’s one-yard dive over the Comet defensive line for a touchdown with 8:14 remaining in the first quarter.

The touchdown would be the lone score of the quarter as both teams settled in defensively, which forced a number of shoddy punts until early in the second quarter.

Burston (19-41, 230 yards passing and two touchdowns and 48 yards rushing) answered for the Comets by connecting with receiver Marquis Pippins (five receptions for 47 yards and one touchdown) for a 20-yard touchdown pass with nine minutes to play before halftime.

The touchdown was followed by a successful 2-point conversion which gave CCC its first lead at 8-7.

The Comets continued to score adding another touchdown pass. This time Burston found receiver Willie Williams (one reception for 80 yards and one touchdown) open for an 80-yard pass that resulted in Williams sprinting to the end zone untouched.

The Comet’s second two-point conversion failed as backup quarterback Louis Michael was stuffed on an attempted quarterback sneak into the end zone.

The play ended in a Comet illegal use of the hands penalty,  leaving CCC with a 14-7 lead and 2:17 to play in the half. At halftime the Comets led 14-7.

The Panthers began to ignite offensively in the beginning of the third quarter starting with a 37-yard pass from quarterback Justin Yeaton (13 for 33 for 108 yards two interceptions) to receiver Jordan Moore.

The connection set up the game-tying pass from alternate quarterback Tyrell Shavers to running back Deon Drake for a 6-yard touchdown.

Coming into the season, the Comet secondary was projected to be the strength of its defense. So far, the unit has shown moments of promise but has yet to play to its full potential.

“It’s the little things, we need to put in more time together after practice,” Comet safety Rodney Washington (seven tackles and one  sack) said. “The more we work together the better our chemistry will be. The long touchdowns were the result of a breakdown in communication.”

The score and extra point tied the game at 14 just two minutes into the third quarter.

The following Comet drive fell flat as Panther’s defensive lineman Josh Johnson forced Burston to fumble the ball while attempting to escape the collapsing pocket.

The fumble gave Sacramento the ball and an opportunity to convert a go-ahead field goal with 8 minutes to play in the third quarter.

Neither team scored in the fourth quarter and the 32-yard kick would ultimately decide the outcome of the game.

The overwhelming pressure the Panther defensive line delivered seemed to keep the Comets’ running game from developing and kept Burston out of sync for most of the game.

“No excuses. My job was to get the ball out and I didn’t deliver. They were bringing the pressure,” Burston said. “We have to go back to the drawing board, practice some more, watch some more film and prepare better for next week.”

Burston fumbled four times Saturday, however, he only lost one after getting blindsided by a defender who slipped through the Comet offensive line.

“We were up 14-7 at the end of the first half. They (Sacramento) scored 10 points after the break  and we scored none in the second half,” Carter said. “That shows me a breakdown on both sides of the ball.”