BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
SANTA MARIA -- Bakersfield College running backs Jalen Sykes and Curtis McGregor said they got extra motivation this week as they prepared for Allan Hancock College.
Hancock running back Cameron Artis-Payne is the state leader in rushing yards and touchdowns, averaging 211 yards per game.
Artis-Payne had a nice game statistically speaking Saturday: 148 yards and four touchdowns. But most of those yards came in the second half when BC had the game in hand.
Sykes had his BC career-best 242 yards with two touchdowns and McGregor added 164 yards and two scores as the Renegades routed Hancock, 56-27, at Righetti High.
The win improves the Renegades to 7-2 overall and clinches second place in the National Northern Conference with a 4-1 record with one regular-season game to go. It also keeps BC alive in its bid to earn a spot in the four-team Southern California playoffs.
BC finished with 599 net yards, with 436 on the ground. The Renegades scored touchdowns on all eight of their possessions and never let the Bulldogs back into the game once they took a 21-point lead.
"I don't think I've ever been part of a game, as a player or coach, where we never punted, had no turnovers and scored all touchdowns," BC coach Jeff Chudy said. "It was an outstanding effort by our offense. Our coaches did a great job of preparing them."
The focus all week was on Artis-Payne, who had 192 yards and three touchdowns last year when Hancock beat BC, 35-28.
"The whole week, the coaches were saying we're going against the No. 1 running back in the state," said Sykes, who had his 242 yards on 32 carries, with 153 in the first half as BC led 35-14. "I was very determined to show him up.
"I wanted to bring my 'A' game and play as hard as I could."
Sykes had the game's first score, a 4-yard run, to conclude a game-opening 83-yard drive. He added a 7-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
McGregor had his 164 yards on 19 carries. His touchdowns were a 6-yard run in the second quarter and a 9-yard run for the game's final TD with 5:41 left in the fourth quarter.
"It's real motivating playing against somebody like that," McGregor said of Artis-Payne. "Especially when you have a coach who challenges you and calls you out.
“The whole week our coaches said we’re going against the No. 1 running back. I’m thinking we’re going against the No. 1 defense every day in practice.”
BC’s offensive line dominated the Bulldogs, and Hancock helped out with atrocious tackling. The Bulldogs have traditionally be a potent, in-your-face defense when facing the Renegades. This was the 18th straight season the teams have met.
Artis-Payne had only 44 yards in the first half. He ran effectively after that, but since Hancock could never cut into BC’s lead.
Once the Renegades took a 21-0 lead in the second quarter, the lead never dropped below 14 points.
And BC’s scoring drives weren’t cheapies. They covered 83, 92, 79, 73, 55, 95, 49 and 61 yards.
Chudy’s only complaint was woeful kickoffs by the Renegades that gave the Bulldogs the ball near midfield several times. Chudy was also unhappy when Hancock’s second touchdown was set up when tight end Connor Allen was left uncovered 25 yards downfield during a 58-yard play.
“Our kickoffs were ridiculous and we blew a coverage when those guys, who don’t throw, were in a third-and-20,” Chudy said. “The one thing I was disappointed about is we didn’t have our mental edge when we needed to. I thought we bottled them up at the beginning of the game and we got them frustrated.
“We’ve got to do better.”
But offensively, Chudy acknowledged things went better than expected.
“We thought our best defense would be the offense controlling the ball,” Chudy said. “Not only did Curtis and Jalen run well, our guys (offensive line) put hats on people and our wideouts were blocking well.
“When we had to convert on play action stuff, we didn’t need to throw the ball.”
BC quarterback Brian Burrell did not attempt a pass in the second half. He was 6-of-9 for 163 yards with a picture-perfect 33-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquise Johnson. Burrell also ran for three TDs, on carries of 3, 1 and 9 yards.
Hancock wide receiver Nicko Shellow, the team leader with 30 receptions and seven TD catches, suffered a broken left arm that delayed the game for more than 15 minutes late in the second quarter while he was being treated and then wheeled off the field.
BC closes its regular season with a 4 p.m. home game Saturday vs. Pasadena City College. BC’s playoff hopes will likely be tied to Saturday’s game between Mount San Antonio and Riverside. Mount SAC was 8-0 entering Saturday’s game at El Camino. Riverside was 7-1 entering its home game vs. Desert (3-5).