On one particular play Saturday at Mountclef Stadium, Cal Lutheran College football players hit viciously, gave plenty of second effort and helped teammates off the ground. It wasn’t a pass or a run, however, and no points were scored, unless a boxing judge happened to be among the crowd of 3,720.
The Kingsmen got the best of a bench-clearing brawl in the fourth quarter but, when the hitting counted, were soundly beaten, 37-15, by Cal State Hayward.
The loss was Cal Lutheran’s first after opening the season with two wins on the road. Hayward (3-0) is an aggressive, defense-oriented team. Last week, Hayward defeated CLC’s Western Football Conference colleague, San Luis Obispo, 28-17.
Hayward’s physical nature kept Kingsman quarterback Tom Bonds running for his life during a first half in which the Pioneers took a 24-3 lead. Bonds was sacked six times for 40 yards before intermission, mostly on blitzes by Hayward linebackers Junior Tai and Joe Terry.
Tai and Terry were constant threats. One would feign a blitz and the other would burst into the Cal Lutheran backfield.
“They stunted one linebacker or the other on nearly every play in the first half,” Bonds said. “Our line was confused. We adjusted at halftime but should have been able to adjust on the field.”
When CLC blockers concentrated on the blitz, end Dan Johnson or tackle Eric Houston were free to harass Bonds. Johnson had three sacks and Houston two.
The Cal Lutheran defense put consistent pressure on three Hayward quarterbacks, but could record only two sacks, both in the second half. The quarterbacks got passes off with defenders draped all over them.
The difference in the red dog of the teams was like the difference between being chased by a pit bull and a labrador. Hayward’s rushers were vicious, and when they gripped Bonds, there was no letting go. Kingsmen rushers, on the other hand, were exuberant but rarely dangerous, tending to slobber over a ballcarrier rather than tackle him.
Bonds completed 4 of 12 passes for only 27 yards in the first two quarters. Cal Lutheran made six total yards in the first half and did not capitalize on two first-quarter turnovers by Hayward.
On their first play from scrimmage, the Pioneers fumbled on their 25-yard line. Sean Tippit recovered for the Kingsmen. On the next play, Bonds was chased out of the pocket and threw his first interception of the season.
Two plays after a 56-yard punt by CLC’s Ben Vermillion, Hayward quarterback Bill Neal fumbled and CLC linebacker Ken Wood fell on the ball. But wide receiver Greg Harris, who had seven catches for 240 yards and a 34.4 average before the game, dropped a pass and CLC had to settle for a 28-yard field by Kurt Lohse.
“It was too bad we couldn’t come up with more points early,” Cal Lutheran Coach Bob Shoup said. “Before the game, we hoped Hayward would give us breaks on turnovers. We got the breaks but didn’t do much with them.”
The 3-0 lead stood up until early in the second quarter. Jeff Keppert was sent in at quarterback by Hayward Coach Tim Tierney and the 6-1 senior promptly drove the Pioneers 61 yards to a touchdown. Lonnel Conner, who led Hayward with 75 yards on 18 carries, dived in from the two for a 7-3 Pioneer lead.
Moments later, after Wood broke up a third-down pass attempt, Hayward’s Vito Cangemi kicked a 52-yard field goal. Tracy Downs fumbled on CLC’s next possession and Keppert capitalized by moving Hayward 24 yards for a touchdown and a 17-3 advantage. Fullback Mike Mathews scored from the three.
Hayward went 44 yards on 7 plays in just over a minute to score once more before halftime. On consecutive plays, Keppert hit Stuart Ramirez for 18 yards and a 13-yard touchdown.
“We were flat the entire second quarter,” Bonds said. “Don’t blame the defense. The offense has to move the ball.”
Hayward had a reputation as a team that would wear an opponent down in the second half. Cal Lutheran, however, came back from intermission and dominated the third quarter.
Bonds moved the Kingsmen 57 yards on 16 plays, including two successful fourth-down tries, early in the third quarter, but came away with empty when Johnson recorded one of his sacks. Cal Lutheran got the ball back quickly when Keppert fumbled on Hayward’s next possession, and this time CLC took advantage.
Bonds, who completed 14 of 24 passes for 151 yards in the second half, capped a 49-yard march by hitting Harris with a 20-yard touchdown pass a minute into the fourth period.
Harris fumbled a punt minutes later, however, and after Keppert hit a diving Ledell Conner with a 27-yard completion, Lonnel Conner scored from the two. Neither team made the conversion attempt on their initial fourth-quarter TDs, so the score stood at 30-9.
The CLC offensive line now was shutting off the Pioneer blitz, and Bonds hit Troy Davis with a 45-yard bomb midway through the fourth quarter. Three plays later, Joe Monarrez was on the receiving end of a seven-yard pass from Bonds for Cal Lutheran’s final touchdown.
The fight occurred on the PAT attempt when Hayward’s Tony Valencia retaliated for a hard, but clean hit by Cal Lutheran’s Scott Innis with a hard, but dirty, roundhouse punch. The brawl livened a fairly somber Cal Lutheran bench, but the Kingsmen only had to look at the scoreboard to see who the real winners were.