The Bulldogs, it seems, have Fresno City’s number — and that number is 3.
The College of San Mateo Bulldogs defense was indeed on display in a 17-3 victory in a battle of unbeaten teams Saturday at Ratcliffe Stadium in Fresno.
For the second straight year, the No.2-ranked Bulldogs (4-0 overall) held Fresno City to a mere field goal. That’s a significant accomplishment, seeing as the last time the No. 5 Rams didn’t score a TD in a game, aside from those two matchups against CSM, came in 2013 when they were shut out by City College of San Francisco.
After Fresno City broke a scoreless tie in the second quarter on Jack Cooper’s 20-yard field goal, the Rams reached the red zone just twice more in the game, these on each of their final two possessions. By that time, CSM had mounted a two-score lead, then rode the “D” to its fourth straight win.
On Fresno City’s penultimate possession, sophomore defensive backs Javon Sewell and Bennett Williams closed it out with sharp pass defense on third- and fourth-down incompletions to from the CSM 19-yard line to force a turnover on downs.
The Rams (3-1) got the ball back at their own 10 with 1:51 to play for quarterback Jonah Johnson to chuck his way to the Bulldogs’ 15, recording completions of 20, 21, 9 and 17 yards. Freshman defensive lineman Ioane Foliaki pushed Fresno City back though, sacking Johnson for a 10-yard loss. Linebacker Maasi Halaapiapi then pressured Johnson into a third-down misfire before the drive died on a dropped pass on fourth down.
The Bulldogs recorded a season-high five sacks on the day. Foliaki and lineman Logahulu Ahoia totaled 1 1/2 sacks each, and Devonte Matthew and Noah Lavulo had one apiece. Lavulo now leads the team with three QB sacks on the season.
Trailing 3-0, the CSM offense caught fire in the second quarter. After the Rams’ lone score, the Bulldogs took over at their own 25 and marched 75 yards on 11 plays for the go-ahead score. A 17-yard pass from Luke Bottari to Jason Lloyd on third-and-4 advanced the ball to the Fresno City to sustain the drive. Bottari followed with an 18-yard pass to Mason Sterling, setting it ups for Darrell Page to hammer it in three plays later for a 1-yard score, giving CSM a 7-3 lead.
The Bulldogs defense forced a punt with less than two minutes to go and Bottari went on the march again. CSM took over at its own 23, but advanced into Fresno City territory with completions of 12 and 22 yards. Then, facing fourth-and-6 from the Rams’ 27, Bottari connected with Terrell Carter for a 20-yard completion. Two plays later, Mason Starling hauled in a 7-yard scoring catch from Bottari to up the lead to 14-3 with five seconds remaining in the half.
Six different Bulldogs caught passes in the game, led by Carter with three receptions for 38 yards. Bottari enjoyed another high-percentage day, going 12-of-18 passing for 184 yards, one TD and one interception. The freshman out of Serra now owns a completion percentage of 63.4%.
CSM added a field goal early in the fourth quarter when Dylan Moghaddam booted a 25-yarder.
Fresno City paced CSM in the box score in most categories. The Rams outgained the Bulldogs 299-281, had more first downs 17-15, out-passed them 200-184, out-rushed them 99-97, and dominated time of possession 43:12 to 27:03.
Freshman Isiah Kendrick — a first-team all-West Catholic Athletic League running back on Serra’s state championship squad along with Bottari in 2017 — made his collegiate debut Saturday, as a defensive back and a kick returner.
CSM returns home this coming Saturday to face Modesto Junior College. Kickoff at College Heights Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m.