Comets shut out for first time since ’09

Adverse weather, mud puddles stunt team’s effort to find victory

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

The football team suffered its worst loss since 2009 losing in every major statistical category while being shut out in a 34-0 drubbing at the hands of National Bay 6 Conference leading Santa Rosa Junior College Saturday in Santa Rosa.

In the rain-soaked contest, the Bear Cubs (6-0 overall, 1-0 in the Bay 6) held the Comets’ offense to a minuscule eight rushing yards and 45 yards passing, and also recovered four of CCC’s six fumbles.

The Comets (1-5 overall, 0-1 in the Bay 6) ran 59 plays for 53 yards of total offense — an average of less than a yard per play.

In contrast, Santa Rosa racked up 477 yards of total offense, gaining an average of more than five yards on every play from scrimmage.

“This was the ugliest game I’ve coached since I’ve been at CCC,” coach Alonzo Carter said. “It was muddy and sloppy, but both teams played under the same conditions. We just got outplayed and it gets no easier.”

Although field conditions were equal for both teams, the Bear Cubs came ready for the wet weather. On change of possessions, Santa Rosa substituted their usual leather ball with an all-weather composite ball.

“Some of the defenders were saying the ball felt different in the game, but when we watched the film we noticed the type of ball they were using,” Comet strength and conditioning coach Marcus McLarity said. “It’s perfectly legal to use an all-weather ball according to California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) rules,” Carter said.

CCC’s returns to Comet Stadium to face the College of San Mateo (3-3 overall, 1-0 in the Bay 6) Saturday at 1 p.m.

The game started off with promise when the Bear Cub kick off sailed 51 yards into the hands of Comet defensive back Lavon Washington who sloshed his way up the rain-soaked grass field for a 31-yard return.

That drive eventually stalled and the Comets were forced to punt. CCC’s defensive line surged through the Bear Cub offensive front early in the contest forcing Santa Rosa into a third down and 25 yards to go situation between a first down and its first punt of the game.

On that drive, through the pouring rain, SRJC quarterback Mitch Hood completed a 29-yard pass to give his team a first down at the Comet 32-yard line. The Bear Cubs would settle for a punt.

But after stopping the Comets who punted the ball back, Santa Rosa kicked a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead with nine minutes to play in the first quarter. The Comets continued to tread water as Santa Rosa only allowed one first down while forcing two punts on CCC’s next two possessions.

The Bear Cubs, however, found their way into the end zone on a 10-play, 67-yard drive that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown run. CCC found itself down 10-0 just five seconds into the second quarter.

Before the game, many believed the weather would be an equalizing force between the two teams. But throughout the contest Comet receivers dropped soggy balls that the Santa Rosa players routinely caught.

“It was the nastiest game that I’d ever played in,” CCC safety Rodney Washington said. “There were times out there where I was standing in 4 inches of water. The puddles were deep enough to drown somebody. “It was grimy, but it was time to see what all the pretty boys on our team were made of.”

As CCC’s defensive backs let interceptions slip through their saturated gloves, the Bear Cubs continued to tack on points. After a successful goal line stand for the Comets that yielded only a SRJC field goal, a 13-point deficit would have been a more than acceptable way for CCC to enter the locker room at halftime.

Down 13-0 in the second quarter, both Santa Rosa and the Comets seemed to struggle finding their offensive footing. CCC’s defensive pressure forced a Bear Cub punt that pinned quarterback Cameron Burston and the Comet offense against their own goal line. After a 5-yard run to give the Comet offense some semblance of a cushion, Burston’s scramble and subsequent fumble allowed a Santa Rosa defender to scoop up the ball and run it into the end zone, giving SRJC a 20-0 lead at halftime.

“We were ready to play but we weren’t prepared for the conditions,” Comet defensive lineman James Eggleston said. “Every time we tried to get something going, something bad would happen. Either we fumbled or allowed a third down conversion. We needed to focus more on our preparation and to play more disciplined.”

Following the break, the rain continued to fall and field conditions grew worse. The first six series of the second half saw three punts by CCC and two punts and a fumble by the Bear Cubs. As the pouring rain diminished into a light a drizzle, Santa Rosa was able to convert a 30-yard touchdown pass to go ahead of the Comets 27-0 with three minutes to play in the third quarter.

The Comets’ best chance to avoid being shut out came late in the third quarter after a 22-yard Burston scramble on first and 10 from the Bear Cub 24-yard line. The play gave CCC its lone red zone opportunity of the game.

But the chance was negated when the ball squirted out of Comet quarterback Cameron Burston’s hands and was recovered by SRJC on the 6-yard line in the closing seconds of the third quarter.

Inspired by the play of its defense, the Bear Cub offense executed a 94-yard pitchand-catch touchdown just nine seconds into the fourth quarter that strangled the final signs of life from the Comets and sealed the 34-0 shutout victory.

Comet defensive back Arthur Hayes said, “I wasn’t prepared for the amount of mud and rain. There were huge puddles of mud in the center of the field. It was hard to get my feet out of the suction grip of the mud. They should have called this the mud bowl.”

“We were still in position to make a comeback until they caught that short hitch and turned it into a 90-yard touchdown. It was little things like that missed tackle that really cost us the game.”