By BY jeff evans Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
A rematch with Ventura College has been the goal of Bakersfield College’s coaches and players since Sept. 22, when the Pirates downed the Renegades in a four-overtime thriller.
BC gets its wish today in the Beach Bowl, when 10-0 Ventura, the No. 2 seed in the Southern California community college football playoffs, faces 8-2 and third-seeded BC.
“We’re fortunate to be where we are,” said BC coach Jeff Chudy. “It’s not often you get a second chance at an opponent.”
On Sept. 22, BC lost to Ventura 30-24 in the wild four-overtime game, part of a remarkable run of narrow victories by Ventura this season.
The Pirates also beat Riverside 28-27 on opening night, then later added a 39-35 win over L.A. Harbor, 21-14 over Saddleback, 18-13 over Cerritos, 31-24 over Allan Hancock and 31-24 over Pasadena, a 1-9 team.
“They have done a good job of keeping their composure and hanging in there,” Chudy said. “They have been behind a bunch of times in the fourth quarter but they find a way to get it done. They don’t panic. “It’s a tribute to them. Only two teams in the state are 10-0. It’s very difficult to go undefeated.”
But BC is also on a roll. Six consecutive wins with many lopsided victories earned the Renegades the at-large spot in the four-team Southern California playoffs.
“We got there using a little different route than we normally do,” said Chudy, whose team has been an automatic playoff qualifier four of the last six years by winning its conference title. “But the most important thing is we’re there.”
Chudy said the two areas that hurt BC in the first meeting with Ventura must be cleaned up tonight: Kickoff returns by the Pirates and missed tackles at inopportune times by the Renegades.
Jordan Howard had a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and added a 51-yard return past midfield that set up another score in the teams’ first meeting.
BC has allowed long kick returns throughout the season, a fact Chudy has focused on with his team.
“We just need to execute,” he said. “You can’t be giving up huge returns. It’s a big difference starting a drive at midfield versus starting it on the 25-yard line. We have to do a better job in that area. ... We’ve been inconsistent in our kickoffs and in our kicking game in general.”
The missed tackles have not been a typical problem, but it was a factor in the teams’ first meeting.
“They had a play-action pass where we missed a tackle and they got a big gain out of it,” Chudy said. “Another time they threw a swing pass and we missed a tackle there. So instead of a 5-yard gain it went for 30. We can’t be doing that in this game.”
Chudy said the Renegades are healthy, adding specifically that running back Curtis McGregor, defensive end Keylon Hollis and wide receiver Marquise Johnson “are fine.”
McGregor, who had 72 yards rushing in the first Ventura game, took a helmet-to-knee hit Saturday against Pasadena and was on crutches on the sideline after the game. Hollis, who has 12.5 sacks, including four against Pasadena, and Johnson,
BC’s big-play receiver who averages more than 22 yards per catch, both suffered ankle injuries that slowed them down in the second half.