BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
It was mission accomplished for Bakersfield College on Saturday evening.
The Renegades, facing a must-win situation to keep alive their Southern California playoff hopes, dominated Pasadena City College in the second half and cruised to a 38-17 win at Memorial Stadium to conclude the regular season.
BC finishes 8-2 (5-1 National Northern Conference) and learns today whether it earns the at-large berth into the four-team playoffs that starts Saturday. The fall-back would be a home bowl game if the Renegades do not make the playoffs.
The final spot will come down to BC and Riverside, which lost 25-0 to Mount San Antonio College later Saturday. BC and Riverside both finish 8-2, with the losses to the same teams.
"It's been a great year," said freshman inside linebacker Grant Campbell, who had 12 tackles. "Now we're pumped for the playoffs. We're hoping for the playoffs. But we know we've got a game for sure next Saturday."
BC coach Jeff Chudy said he feels the Renegades should earn the playoff spot.
"We're both 8-2 and lost to the same people," Chudy said. "They lost to Ventura by one point, we lost in four overtimes when we got hosed by the officials.
"If you look at comparative scores, we beat Santa Ana, which will probably win that (National Southern) conference, we beat Fullerton which is playing Santa Ana for that championship. The other common team was El Camino, and we beat them worse than they did. So if you do the numbers, it’s not an issue.”
BC beat El Camino 40-13 and Riverside beat the Warriors 63-35.
Saturday, the Renegades had a big fourth quarter to turn back Pasadena (1-9, 0-6 NNC), which pulled out all stops to keep the game exciting.
The Lancers ran two fake punts, getting a first down once and failing the other time. They went for first downs on eight fourth-down situations but only converted two.
Jalen Sykes, BC’s sophomore running back, had a 24-yard touchdown run with 1:58 left in the game that gave him 166 rushing yards in the game and 1,001 this season. He is the 15th rusher in BC’s history to top 1,000 yards in a season.
Quarterback Brian Burrell was only 10-of-18 for 105 yards but had three touchdown passes — 21 yards to Brock Martin to open the scoring, 22 yards to Robert Burns early in the second quarter that broke a 7-7 tie and put the Renegades ahead for good, and an 8-yard pass to tight end Mike Dunn early in the fourth quarter. Burrell also had a 22-yard touchdown run.
BC had several notable injuries, the most serious apparently to freshman running back Curtis McGregor, who took a violent helmet-to-right knee hit with 4:26 left in the second quarter.
McGregor, who had 621 rushing yards entering the game, was down on the field for several minutes and had to be carried off the field by several teammates. He was on crutches along the sideline when the game ended and said he was going to be examined more closely later Saturday night.
“It was tough to see,” Sykes said. “He’s like my brother. I did everything I could out there for him. He’d do the same for me.”
Outside linebacker Keylon Hollis, an All-American last year who came into the game with 8.5 sacks, suffered an ankle injury that forced him to miss more than a quarter. He returned in the fourth quarter and had three of his five sacks after returning. He was hobbling after the game with his right ankle heavily wrapped in ice.
“It hurt pretty bad. I had to block it out,” said Hollis, who said the injury occurred when he was hit from behind while rushing Pasadena quarterback Zeek Julien.
Also dinged up was explosive wide receiver Marquise Johnson, who appeared to injure his ankle while
making a leaping attempt at a catch in the end zone. He was helped off the field but did return later.
“You cringe when that happens,” Chudy said. “(Hollis) showed mental toughness to put himself back on the field. He could have checked it in. Marquise, too.”
Burns’ touchdown reception was his first catch in two seasons at BC.
“What a story,” Chudy said. “For two years he’s been out here. He’s a 4.0 student, a guy who does stuff nobody sees. That shows what kind of group we’ve got.”
The BC defense sacked Julien eight times and limited the Lancers to 40 net yards of offense in the fourth quarter.