One can’t be too critical of the College of San Mateo football team right now.
They’re 2-0 — two wins in convincing fashion, actually. CSM’s latest win was a 28-7 victory over an upstart Chabot College team that shares a lot of personal grudge history with the Bulldogs.
On the scoreboard and the stat sheet, everything is moving along just fine for the Bulldogs and that was the case for most of the 60 minutes Saturday afternoon at College Heights Stadium.
But, the key word there is “most.”
“Not yet. Not yet,” said CSM head coach Bret Pollack when asked if he was pleased with the entirety of the game. “What was the second half? 7-7? Not yet. We turned the ball over too many times. Defense played great. Offense played good the first half. We had too many turnovers early. Willy (Fonua) came in and did a great job, jump-started the offense. Protected the football. Threw the football pretty well. But near the end of the game, it wasn’t there.”
The 28-7 score is decisive until you consider that CSM should have probably scored a lot more. Or, perhaps better suited, Chabot should have done more with four Bulldog turnovers. Of those four, the Gladiators were only able to attempt a pair of field goals (that they missed) and twice turned the ball over themselves. Overall, the turnover margin read in favor of CSM 6-4.
“They did a good job of shutting the door on them and not letting them into the end zone — forcing field goals which they missed,” Pollack said of his defense. “We blocked some field goals. That’s the name of the game — keep them out of the end zone and make them kick field goals. I was happy with the way the defense played.”
The Bulldog defense held Chabot to only 14 first downs for the game (five of which came via penalty) and 234 totals yards. The Gladiators didn’t find the end zone until the early part of the fourth quarter and that was only after a huge kickoff return aided their efforts.
Up until that point, the Bulldogs weren’t in complete control of the game. But, they did have a pretty tight grip on it.
CSM scored on its initial drive, one that ate seven plays and 75 yards in a little over two minutes of football. Starting quarterback Casey Wichman did the honors from one yard out.
But Wichman wasn’t on point in this his second start of the season. The next two drives resulted in interceptions and while Wichman orchestrated another touchdown drive in the second quarter (four plays, 95 yards) that culminated in a George Naufahu 34-yard dash into the end zone, another turnover on the next CSM drive (Wichman fumble) made Pollack switch QBs. In came former Menlo-Atherton standout Willy Fonua, who put together a nifty eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive right before the half to put CSM up 21-0.
The scoring play was a screen pass from Fonua to Naufahu with eight second left to play in the quarter.
“George did a good job of pounding the ball in the middle,” Pollack said. “They (Chabot) was playing two schemes and Willy did a good job of checking down, did a good job of audibling and giving us a good chance based on where they were aligned. Early on, he read it well.”
Early on, it looked like CSM was going to roll despite all its mistakes. But, just like Pollack commented about their Week 1 win over Laney College, the Bulldogs seemed to take their collective foot off the accelerator.
The result was a half in which CSM only scored seven more points. And were it not for the hustle of Michael Latu and Dominick Jackson on a lost CSM fumble — a play that saw Latu chase down the Gladiator defender 60 yards and punch the ball out of his arm only to have a hustling Jackson fall on top of it at the CSM 2-yard line — the game might have been a little more interesting.
“I don’t know what it is,” Pollack said. “If I knew, I’d solve it. We just have to play a full game.”
Naufahu finished the game with 140 yards rushing on 20 carries. He also caught a pass for 20 yards and touchdown. Quincy Nelson was CSM’s leading receiver with five catches for 82 yards.
Fonua was 12-of-19 for 150 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 17 yards.