JUCO Journal for 10/25/09

I had forgotten how much I enjoy standing on the visiting sidelines at a San Bernardino Valley College football game. I think it may be because SBVC’s football stadium has such a unique look.

The home half of the stadium, at least the portions that sit the fans and house the press box, was built upon the outside of the school’s gymnasium. Seems reasonable that this was done because of money and space constraints (we’re talking about a community college in West San Bernardino here) but for whatever shortcomings it may have, I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it, in my experience. It’s almost functional art.

The giant paw-print graphic at the far end also is well done. It’s plastered, very distinctly, upon the multiple levels of the structure. It’s really something to see.

I covered the Mt. San Jacinto College-San Bernardino Valley College football game for the Riverside Press-Enterprise on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009 and witnessed the Wolverines lay an egg in the 1st Half only to completely dominate the second half. Football is a game of halves, after all.

Watch a video from the game here.

On its first drive of the game SBVC had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown. An interception was thrown by QB Dom Carr on their next drive and the next three possessions? Punt, fumble, punt. Not a good start by any means.

The Wolverines awoke in the third quarter and starting makng positive things happen. The team was also aided by a series of personal foul calls against Mt. San Jacinto players. Each penalty was 15 yards and an automatic first down for SBVC, which obviously helped keep even the most inept drives alive. By the end of the third quarter MSJC led by just three points,17-14. By the end of the fourth quarter, SBVC had won 28-17.

I wondered what Wolverines coach Kevin Emerson had told his team at halftime to make such a dramatic turnabout.

“We challenged them. We basically just challenged them. No more mistakes. Let’s make plays,” Emerson said. “It tells me that the kids can put all that aside, forget about the first 30 minutes, and play a new half of football. This is a good win for our program because we pulled ourselves from behind.”

Standing on the Mt. San Jacinto sidelines was also a tale of two halves. I overhead a player saying “I want to smoke these fools! AAAHHHH!” after the Eagles scored their first touchdown on the returned block punt. It was much of the same in the second quarter as the jumped to a 14-0 lead over SBVC.

In the third quarter there was a lot of barking a the referees for the personal foul penalties. SBVC scored to make it 14-7 and there was pressure put upon the offense to respond. MSJC’s QB, Courtney Pete, was intercepted on the Eagles’ next possession and the mood changed instantly. Players were now barking at the refs and one another. It got worse when the Wolverines tied the game 14-14.

MSJC got a field goal and the lead, 17-14, near the end of the quarter and the Eagles’ hopes were buoyed for a moment.

It was only for a moment, though, as SBVC’s Carr produced 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to give the Wolverines the lead for good. On the MSJC sideline there were dozens of dour looks, a few thrown helmets and a metric ton of f-bombs.

There had been an avalanche of negativity on the MSJC sideline following back-to-back personal foul penalties in the third quarter and play on offense and defense subsequently suffered. It was a collective collapse. Even special teams, which allowed a kickoff to go uncovered, became a mess.

Eagles coach Casey Mazzota was nonplussed after the game.

“We’re a football program that needs to learn how to win football games. I think we’re talented enough to win football games but we need to find a way to win. It’s tough to do some times. Winning games at the college level is always tough.”

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