Word around the College of San Mateo football locker room is that the page has been turned.
And without a doubt, it’s the most disappointing and disheartening page of the 2013 season so far.
The Bulldogs did almost everything right in an absolute battle with No. 1 Butte College in Oroville last Saturday. Offensively, they racked up 400 yards of offense against the statistically best defense in the NorCal Conference. Defensively, a team coming in averaging over 350 yards of rushing on the ground didn’t hit 100 (if you subtract a couple of quarterback scrambles).
But, key turnovers and a big kickoff return for a touchdown in the second half gave CSM it’s first loss of the season 28-20 — this after the Bulldogs were twice thwarted near the goal line in the fourth quarter, the latter of which came on the final play of the game.
“They played a great game,” said Tim Tulloch, CSM assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. “They fought all the way down to the final snap. After the game, they carried themselves with class. They picked their heads up, they shook hands, tipped their hats to a very good Butte team. There is no regret with those guys. Those guys left it all out on the field. It was a slug fest. It was as physical a football game as I’ve been involved with in a long, long time. It’s what you coach in this conference for. It’s what you coach in this league for. It’s for games like that. I’m very, very proud of our guys.
“What I love about what we did in that game was, a couple of things. They jumped out on us and we fought back, on the road. You wish you could have the kick return back. That a big one, because they didn’t score on our defense in the second half. We shut them out in the second half. They scored on a trick play. Some of those things, you wish you could have back. All and all, the guys executed.”
That said, it seems unproductive to dissect CSM’s loss and take a page from their book. And in a lot of ways, if you’re the Bulldogs, you have to put that loss in the rearview mirror and move on since the toughness of the NorCal schedule requires that.
“They’re more pissed off than anything,” Tulloch said. “We talked about how in 2009, the same thing happened — we lost a conference game and those guys went on a run, that team went on a run. They were pissed off and won every game in conference there on out. We ended in a three-way tiebreaker ... and we went on and advanced. Those guys know there’s definitely a potential it can go down there. Our guys know what’s in front of us and where we are. They’re going to be prepared on Saturday.”
Saturday is a matchup against De Anza, which is among the most pass-happy teams in the NorCal conference. But the Dons are coming off a 35-31 loss to Santa Rosa. The Bear Cubs outscored the Dons 21-0 in the fourth quarter to win that game. But despite its 3-5 record, De Anza isn’t a team CSM is taking lightly — especially since it was the Dons who beat the Bulldogs in overtime last year.
“There is no question — those guys remember it and they remember it well,” Tulloch said. “We all do. That one was a tough one just because the best player on the field was their quarterback and he did a great job and they gave us all kinds of problems. … So, there isn’t going to be a lack of motivation.”
The Dons are led by quarterback Jack Singler, who’s passed for 2,214 yards and 25 touchdowns this year. What makes Singler dangerous though, is perhaps the most dangerous wide receiver tandem in the state. Bryan Fobbs and Tyler Lucas are responsible for 130 of Singler’s 180 completions — and over 1,700 of his yards.
“They have a lot of weapons on offense,” Tulloch said. “They have probably the best receiver in the conference (Fobbs). They have another receiver from Penn State. They’re going to throw it around. They’re going to go five-wide. They’re going to run a bunch of personnel groups. They’re going to shift and do a lot of things to try and stretch you. Defensively, they’re going to pressure and blitz you. We’ve definitely have our eyes on De Anza. The page has been turned. It was turned on Monday. And, we’re going to have those guys ready to go play.”
Kick off for Saturday’s clash between CSM and De Anza is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the College of San Mateo.