College of the Canyons football (2-4, 0-1) dropped its fourth straight game, and first in Southern California Football Association National Division, Northern League conference play, falling to Bakersfield College (3-3, 1-0), 17-7, Thursday night at Cougar Stadium.
The Cougars were unable to take advantage of an early touchdown, giving up 17 unanswered points after getting their lone score late in the first quarter of their homecoming game.
“I think offensively, we’ve got to figure out who we are,” Canyons head coach Ted Iacenda said. “We got to figure it out quickly, because we’ve got very good opponents in our conference. I think, top to bottom, we have the toughest conference in Southern California. So it’s on to the next week, and we’ve got to find our identity.”
Canyons started the game strong, holding Bakersfield to a punt and a blocked field goal on the Renegades’ first two drives. The Cougars were able to take advantage of that blocked field goal, needing just two plays to find the end zone.
Freshman running back J.D. Sumlin started the drive off with a 32-yard run, setting up freshman quarterback Bryce Dickson for a 39-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Jacobee Taylor.
It was all Bakersfield from that point on. The Renegades scored just before the half on a 1-yard run from sophomore quarterback Joseph Campbell on a drive that started on their own 22-yard line with just 44 seconds left in the second quarter. They then got a field goal from 28 yards out early in the third from freshman Tristin Skinner. The dagger score was a 71-yard touchdown pass from Campbell to sophomore Jihad Marks with 7:30 to go in the fourth.
“I think it always boils down to going back to basics, you know,” Iacenda said. “We’ve got to stop committing penalties. I think we only had one turnover tonight, which is nice, but a lot of untimely holding penalties and a lot of sacks, which is kind of uncharacteristic of us. So we got to fix it.”
Cougar quarterbacks were sacked six times for 51 yards, many of them coming on crucial downs. And while Canyons only had three penalties, they couldn’t have come at worse times. A holding penalty negated a run for a first down by sophomore running back Semaj Williams in the third quarter, followed by an incompletion and a punt.
That penalty moved Canyons out of range for a field goal at a time when the Cougars were trailing by just three.
While the Cougars’ offense was stifled, their defense showed out. Besides those three scoring drives, Bakersfield couldn’t get the ball moving, punting on seven of their 11 drives.
“I think we started pretty well; our defense balled out of the first half,” Cougars sophomore linebacker Brian Snoek said. “We always know that our offense, it takes some time to get into the game and make plays. And I feel like we held up pretty well, the first half was 7-7. Coming out, you just say, ‘OK, 0-0, we start over.’ And I think we just didn’t execute as we should [on defense].”
Snoek had himself a game, racking up six tackles, four of them for a loss. Both of those marks were tied with freshman defensive lineman Carlos Rivera for the team lead. Snoek also picked up Canyons’ lone sack of the game.
“I don’t want to give myself too much credit because it’s the defense, football is a team sport,” Snoek said. “I watched a lot of film the last couple days. Coach [Iacenda] is always getting on us on watching film, and I’m just seeing what they do, when they motion, and I just see the formation and I kind of know what plays they will play in these formations.”
Dickson finished 16-of-25 passing for 178 yards and a touchdown, fumbling twice and losing one of them. He came on in relief of freshman Chayden Peery in the first quarter after the latter went 6-of-9 for 8 yards, with his last two plays resulting in sacks.
Iacenda wouldn’t say that Dickson, who had been sharing time with Peery throughout the season, is the starter moving forward.
“I think that’s to be determined,” Iacenda said. “We’re gonna go back. Obviously, we did not get the result we wanted tonight. So we’re gonna go back and evaluate everything, not just quarterback but evaluate everything.”
Sumlin led the Cougars with 44 yards on eight attempts on the ground. Sophomore Jordan Anderson picked up 39 yards on just one rush attempt.
Taylor and sophomore Joshua Littleberry tied for the team lead with 44 receiving yards.
Canyons will try to get back to winning ways next Saturday on the road against Allen Hancock College. That game will kick off at 2 p.m.
Iacenda will be hoping to see both sides of his team put together complete games in that one after watching his offense fall short by just one possession in its three previous games before putting up only seven points on Thursday.
“There’s not half a team. It’s a team,” Iacenda said. “And we’re in this together. Win or lose, 10-0 or 0-10, we stick together, we stay together, and we’re gonna figure it out.”