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By Rod Thornburg/ Special The Californian
BY JEFF EVANS, Californian staff writer email@example.com
GLENDORA -- Bakersfield College is fulfilling the coaches' wishes that urge improvement every week.
The Renegades played a solid first half, then dominated the second half in a 54-6 win at Citrus College Saturday night, setting up next Saturday's showdown in Memorial Stadium against defending state champion and current top-ranked Mount San Antonio in a battle of 4-0 teams.
"That is going to be as good a junior college football game as you'll see," said BC coach Jeff Chudy. "It would be great to have 10,000 Bakersfield fans out there. We're talking about a team that we've played in the (Southern California) semifinals and finals the last two times we've faced them."
Citrus (1-2) came into Saturday's game averaging 30 points in its first two games, and the Owls struck first by driving 50 yards on the opening drive to set up a 31-yard field goal by Eric De Lira.
But the Renegades came right back to march 79 yards to take the lead for good, on Julian Dean-Johnson's 3-yard touchdown run.
De Lira added a 21-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, a drive that began at the BC 8 when Andre Smith fumbled -- only the second turnover of the season for BC.
But the BC defense didn't allow another point. It was 17-6 at halftime and BC made it a rout with five second-half touchdowns.
Citrus took away BC's punt and kickoff return prowess by kicking away from the Renegades' talented return men. But the offense was up to that challenge, with six scoring drives of at least 57 yards
The Renegades were coming off a 63-7 home win against Antelope Valley when the BC starters were pulled late in the second quarter. Against Citrus, the starters were gone by late in the third quarter.
In the second half, Citrus had minus-24 net rushing yards and only two first downs.
The Renegades were hurt by mistakes in the first half that cost them some points. An apparent 25-yard pass play to Dean-Johnson near the goal line was nullified by an illegal motion penalty, and a bad snap from center late in the second quarter with BC at the 1-yard line went for a 21-yard loss. That forced the Gades to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Josh Gallington.
"We kept shooting ourselves in the foot," said BC quarterback Lyle Negron, who was 11-of-20 for 222 yards and two touchdowns, and added 62 rushing yards and a TD.
"They played with us in the first half," Negron added. "We can't play like that next week."
Citrus stacked its defense close to the line of scrimmage to try and take away BC's running game, but the Owls weren't successful. The Gades had season-highs in net rushing yards (213) and passing yards (277).
Citrus running back Brandon Stansell had 101 yards on 18 carries, but only 35 yards in the second half.
"We came out real slow," BC sophomore safety Tyler Thompson said. "I think we improved as the game went on. Now we're getting ready for Mount SAC. We know they're a real good team."
BC sacked Citrus' quarterbacks six times for 66 yards in losses.
BC sophomore Andre Smith reached a milestone, gaining 32 yards on eight carries to pass 1,000 in his Renegade career. He's the 25 th player in the program's history to reach 1,000.
Dean-Johnson finished with 101 yards on 11 carries to lead the Renegades. In addition to his 3-yard TD run, he also had a 49-yard TD run when he showed off some nifty moves to elude would-be tacklers.
Gallington added a season-best 46-yard field goal and was 6-for-6 on PATs. A failed extra point attempt went for a team kick miss when a bad snap from center prevented Gallington from getting the kick away.