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Friday, Dec 20 2013 07:07 PM

Miscues prove costly as Bakersfield Christian falls in D-IV bowl

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    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Bakersfield Christian wide receiver Hayden Kutcha leaves the field following the Eagles' 36-23 loss to Central Catholic in the CIF Division IV Championship game at the StubHub Center in Carson.

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  2. 2 of 27

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Bakersfield Christian quarterback Brandon Jones stares at the field as the seconds wind down in the CIF Division IV Championship game in Carson. The Eagles lost to Central Catholic, 36-23.

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  3. 3 of 27

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Central Catholic quarterback Hunter Petlansky fumbles the ball after being hit by the BCHS defense. From left are Jon Martineau, Hayden Kuthca and Matt Smith, (right) in the first half. BCHS recovered the fumble.

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  4. 4 of 27

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Bakersfield Christian running back Matt Smith hops to a first down in the first quarter against Central Catholic on Friday.

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  5. 5 of 27

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Bakersfield Christian's Keith Blank dives over Central Catholic quarterback Hunter Petlansky in first half action.

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  6. 6 of 27

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Bakersfield Christian receiver Hayden Kuchta is brought down by the Central Catholic defense after a first half completion.

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  7. 7 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    BCHS receiver Zach Balfanz breaks away for a nice gain in the first half Friday night at the StubHub in Carson.

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  8. 8 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    BCHS runningback Matt Smith straight arms Central Catholic defender Montell Bland during the first half at the StubHub Friday night.

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  9. 9 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    BCHS runningback Zach Balfanz trys to get around Central Catholic defender Jared Rice Friday night at the StubHub.

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  10. 10 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    BCHS runningback Josh Jackson breaks away for a gain Friday night at the StubHub.

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  11. 11 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    BCHS runningback Mat Smith protects quarterback Brandon Jones during the first half Friday night at the StubHub.

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  12. 12 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    BCHS runningback Keith Blank fumbles the ball on a play during the first half Friday night in Carson.

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  13. 13 of 27

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Bakersfield Christian quarterback Brandon Jones is upended on a short gain in the first half against Central Catholic.

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  14. 14 of 27

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Quaterback Brandon Jones scrambles in for Bakersfield Christian's second touchdown in the first half against Central Catholic.

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  15. 15 of 27

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Bakersfield Christian's Dustin Duffield brings down Central Catholic punt returner Jackson Finch at the close of the first half.

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  16. 16 of 27

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Bakersfield Christian quarterback Brandon Jones is sacked the Central Catholic defense with 4 minutes left in the game.The Eagles lost the game 36-23.

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  17. 17 of 27

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    This second half pass falls incomplete as Bakersfield Christian wide receiver Hayden Kuthca is hammered by Central Catholic's Jared Rice, left, and Timmy Gutierrez. The Eagles lost the championship game 36-23.

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  18. 18 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    BCHS receiver Josh Jackson tries to catch a tipped pass along with Central Catholic players Jackson Finch (right) and Timy Gutierrez during the second half Friday at the StubHub.

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  19. 19 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    BCHS lineman Ben Wind (left) and Matt Banks (right) block during an extra point Friday night at the StubHub.

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  20. 20 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Central Catholic runningback Reggfie Bland is tied up by BCHS defenders Hayden Kuchta (left) and Austin Duffield (right) during the second half Friday at the StubHub.

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  21. 21 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    BCHS defender Josh Jackson holds Central Catholic receiver Jared Rice on a pass play during the second half Friday night at the StubHub. Pass interference was called on the play.

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  22. 22 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    BCHS head coach Jerold Pierucci has a talk with his players during a time-out in the second half Friday night at the StubHub.

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  23. 23 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    BCHS quarterback Brandon Jones attempts a pass while being chased by a Central Catholic defender in the second half Friday night at the StubHub.

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  24. 24 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    BCHS receiver Hayden Kuchta battles Central Catholic defender Timy Gutierrez for a pass during the first half Friday night at the StubHub.

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  25. 25 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    BCHS quarterback Brandon Jones looks to pitch to a running back during the second half Friday at the StubHub.

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  26. 26 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    BCHS runningback Matt Smith breaks away for a nice gain Friday night at the StubHub.

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  27. 27 of 27

    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    BCHS coach Jerold Pierucci leads his team in prayer following the end of the game Friday night at the StubHub.

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By JEFF EVANS, Californian columnist jevans@bakersfield.com

CARSON — You want to be at your best in the biggest games.

That wasn’t the case for Bakersfield Christian on Friday evening.

Hurt by turnovers and other mistakes, the Eagles lost 36-23 to Modesto-Central Catholic in the CIF state Division IV championship at the StubHub Center.

"We picked the championship game to play our worst game of the year,” said Eagles coach Jerald Pierucci. “You can’t turn the ball over four times and expect to win a championship game. You can’t make the mental mistakes we made tonight and expect to win a championship.”

Central Catholic (15-1) made it back-to-back Division IV state championships.

Bakersfield Christian quarterback Brandon Jones threw for 380 yards, setting a Central Section record with 4,360 passing yards this season. The former record was 4,187 set by Tulare’s Emmanuel Lewis in 2005. Jones’ two TD passes tied the section mark of 54 set earlier this season by Farmersville’s Sam Metcalf.

But the Raiders offset Jones’ passing by stopping the Eagles’ ground game cold.
The Eagles finished with 2 total yards of rushing offense and junior Matt Smith, who came into the game with 1,567 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, had only 27 yards, with a longest run of 6 yards.

The Eagles drove 80 yards on their first possession with Jones hitting Hayden Kuchta with a 5-yard touchdown pass with 9:54 left in the first quarter.

After forcing a Central Catholic punt, Eagles’ receiver Zach Balfanz fumbled on an end around, and Raiders’ free safety Jared Rice scooped it up and ran 22 yards to tie it up. It was the first of two lost fumbles by the Eagles.

“We had a chance to put the hammer down, and we fumbled for a touchdown,” Pierucci said.

The mistakes kept mounting.

In the second quarter with Bakersfield Christian up 14-10, the Eagles lined up to punt from its own end zone. The snap sailed over Nathan DeJager’s head for a safety..

Later in the quarter, Central Catholic’s Kenny Smart kicked his second field goal of the game for a 15-14 lead. The Raiders never trailed after that.

Field position heavily favored Central Catholic all night. Of the Raiders’ 11 possessions, six began inside BCHS territory and three others began within five yards of midfield.

The Eagles had 12 drives. Eight began at their own 20, another at their own 11 and none started past the BCHS 29.
Ultimately, the Eagles’ biggest problem was scoring touchdowns.

Jones had a 2-yard TD run with 2:56 left in the second quarter to give the them a 14-7 lead. But the Eagles didn’t get into the end zone again until Jones completed a 71-yard scoring pass to Josh Jackson with 34 seconds left in the game.

After throwing for 161 yards in the first quarter, Jones threw for only 73 yards in the second quarter and 54 in the third. He was 26-of-41 with an interception for  the 380 yards.

“They dropped more guys (into coverage in the second half) but I was making terrible reads,” Jones said. “I just came out and wasn’t sharp. I don’t know what it was.”

Kuchta had eight catches for 116 yards and Jackson had five for 132.

“I’ll remember this forever,” Kuchta said. “We battled all season long. We were never the biggest, never the most athletic but we always gave 100 percent.”

BCHS kicker Nathan DeJager set a Central Section record with 94 extra point kicks, topping the old mark of 92 held by Clovis West’s Aaron Johnson.

Central Catholic’s run-stopping success and the dropoff in BCHS’ passing game added the pressure on the Eagles’ defense.

And as the second half progressed, Central Catholic pounded the ball and consistently drove for first downs.

The dagger may have been a 24-yard touchdown run by freshman Montell Bland with 5:34 left in the third quarter that extended the Raiders’ lead to 22-14.

Bland seemed to run through the entire Eagles’ defense and literally carried four or five tacklers the final five yards into the end zone.

“That was all on our offense,” Pierucci said. “I think we went three times three-and-out, or maybe we got one first down.
“That puts our defense against that style of offense on the field too much. That’s attributed to our offense not executing.

That was the difference. Our defense was on the field way too much in the second half.”

Bland had a game-high 103 yards on 16 carries and added a 5-yard touchdown run with 51 seconds left in the game. His older brother Reggie Bland, a senior, had 88 yards on 17 carries including a 3-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter.

The Raiders finished with 221 rushing yards despite the absence of senior Matt Ringer, who missed the game with a deep thigh bruise. Ringer had more than 2,000 yards and 33 TDs this season.

“I pretty much knew Monday we wouldn’t have him,” Central Catholic coach Roger Canepa said. “We started getting other guys reps. I told them (the Bland brothers) that we’ll rotate and rest them on offense. I knew they could move the ball and they did a great job.”

Central Catholic attempted only seven passes, and only two passes in the second half.

“We are going to do what we do best,” Canepa said.

“This is the greatest stage in high school football,” Jones said. “It sucks to come up short.”

“I think some of my juniors: the game got a little bigger than them,” Pierucci said. “But this is an experience they’ll never forget. If this doesn’t drive you to get to the next level, you’ve got to question what you’re doing on the field.”



Modesto-Central Catholic 36, BCHS 23

Central Catholic    10    5    7    14—36

Bakersfield Christian    14    0    3    6—23

First quarter

BCHS—Kuchta 5 pass from Jones (DeJager kick)

CC—Rice 22 fumble return (Smart kick)

BCHS—Jones 2 run (DeJager kick)

CC—Smart 30 FG

Second quarter

CC—Safety (ball snapped out of end zone on punt play)

CC—Smart 28 FG

Third quarter

CC—M.Bland 26 run (Smart kick)

BCHS—DeJager 28 FG

Fourth quarter

CC—R.Bland 3 run (Smart kick)

CC—M.Bland 5 run (Smart kick)

BCHS—Jackson 71 pass from Jones (pass failed)

TEAM STATISTICS

RUSHING—CC: M.Bland 16-103; R.Bland 17-88, Petlansky 6-16, Hernandez 3-7, Townsend 1-7, Rice 1-1, Ajayi 1-0, team 1-(-1). BCHS: Smith 13-27, Jones 5-2, Blank 1-1, Balfanz 2-(-10), team 2-(-18).

PASSING—CC: Petlansky 3-7-0, 34. BCHS: Jones 26-41-1, 380.

RECEIVING—CC: Rice 1-15, Townsend 1-10, Hernandez 1-9. BCHS: Kuchta 8-116, Balfanz 6-68, Harris 6-63, Jackson 5-132, Smith 1-1.

W-L: Central Catholic 15-1, BCHS 12-3.



 

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