Penalties, clock management mar courageous effort

Special teams’ miscues, mistakes guarantee loss

A referee delivers the verdict of a penalty call against the Comets during CCC’s 21-20 loss to Laney College at Comet Stadium on Saturday.

By Anthony Kinney, Advocate Staff

The football team (1-4) fell short in achieving its second win and ending Laney College’s two-game winning streak after leading at halftime then losing by a single point, 21-20, Saturday night at Comet Stadium.

More than 400 people showed up to witness the Comets play host to a Laney team that it has not faced on the football field in over 30 years.

The game proved to be closer than the distance between the two East Bay schools.

After losing their lead late in the second half, the Comets, with one last chance to win the game, trailed by one point on the 35-yard line with just six seconds to play. With the clock running, quarterback Cameron Burston attempted to stop it but was penalized for an illegal formation after spiking the ball.

A mandatory 10-second runoff ended the Comets’ chance at victory.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s also a growing process,” coach Alonzo Carter said. “We came a long way. We just gotta get over this hump.”

Carter called the loss “a collective breakdown on both sides of the ball.”

After a bye this week, CCC has extra time to prepare for its next game Oct. 15 on the road against undefeated Santa Rosa Junior College.

Penalties plagued both teams from the opening kickoff as Laney (3-1) earned the game’s first penalty on the kick return for an illegal block in the back.

Both teams accumulated a staggering 18 penalties each in the contest which resulted in Laney losing 218 yards and the Comets losing 149 yards.

During the first penalty-free drive of the contest, Eagles’ quarterback Andrew Ve’e (2-12, 13 yards passing and 19 rushing attempts for 94 yards and three touchdowns) scored first with a 5-yard sneak.

The score gave the Eagles an early 7-0 lead with eight minutes to play in the first quarter.

CCC’s offense answered on its following drive. A lobbed touchdown pass was delivered by Burston (12-28 for 92 yards passing and 15 yards rushing with two passing touchdowns) to heavily guarded receiver Semaj Mitchell for an 8-yard score.

However, the Comets’ two-point conversion failed making the score 7-6 at the end of the first quarter.

“We should have got that W. We have got to work more on stepping up during the critical times,” Burston said. “We were bracing for the pressure in the first half and we didn’t see it, so we eased up. Then in the second half when the pressure came, we were a little too late to adjust to it.”

The Eagles were unable to score for the rest of the half as the Comets went on to score two more times before the first half ended.

The first came on an 85-yard touchdown punt return by receiver Willie Williams after the Comet defense forced Laney to kick by shutting them down on three straight possessions.

After botching its first two-point conversion attempt, CCC successfully converted its second attempt on a Burston to Phillip Huff pass connection that extended the Comet lead to 14-7 after a successful two-point conversion.

Comet supporters grew louder and more confident as the defense continued to shut down the Eagles offensive attempts.

CCC capped the first half with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Burston to receiver Jaylin Howard giving the Comets a 20-7 halftime lead.

Linebacker Elijah Williams said, “We left money (opportunities) on the field.

“We should have won,” he said, “The defense didn’t execute. We got too comfortable before the second half and gave them the win.”

CCC’s offense grew colder as temperatures dipped to 52 degrees at the start of the third quarter.

The Laney game marked the second time the Comets were held scoreless during the second half of a game this season.

Comet fans crossed their fingers as the team drove down the field with hopes of making a field goal in the last five minutes of the game that would have given CCC a late lead and possibly the win.

Those hopes were spoiled after the Eagles defense blocked CCC’s field goal attempt, leaving the chances of a comeback unfeasible and sealing the 21-20 loss.