It was not the first mistake committed by the Pierce College football team in Saturday’s Western State Conference football game, nor was it the biggest.
But the roughing-the-kicker penalty against defensive lineman Ed Staley with nine minutes left was the one that stood out in Pierce’s 23-7 South Division loss to Bakersfield at Memorial Stadium.
Trailing, 20-7, Pierce had forced the Renegades to punt for the first time in the second half. But when Staley ran into the punter, Bakersfield was awarded a first down. The Renegades proceeded to chew up 7 1/2 minutes on the clock, marching from their 37-yard line to the Pierce nine in 14 plays. Jon Baker’s 25-yard field goal with 1:29 left ended the drive.
“I don’t know what it was, but we were just out of sync all day,” Pierce Coach Bill Norton said. “I don’t know if we were too hyped up, or if it was having to play too many big games in a row down the stretch. But we just didn’t play well.”
The loss snapped a six-game unbeaten streak for Pierce (7-2-1, 6-2-1 in conference play) and left the Brahmas in second place in the division with a 3-1-1 record.
Santa Monica (4-1) clinched the division championship Saturday with a 40-28 win over Valley.
Staley was hardly the only Pierce player guilty of a mistake Saturday. The Brahmas fumbled five times--losing two--and had one pass intercepted. They also were penalized 11 times for 70 yards.
With his team trailing, 7-0, early in the second quarter, Pierce quarterback Joe Pica threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Shannon Culver, but the score was nullified by a holding penalty. Three plays later, Steve Szekely’s 47-yard field-goal attempt fell short.
Pierce tied the score, 7-7, on its next possession when Keith Bennett ran nine yards to cap a five-play, 27-yard drive set up by a Bakersfield fumble.
Baker’s 45-yard field goal with 16 seconds left in the second quarter gave Bakersfield (5-5, 5-4, 3-2) a 10-7 lead at intermission.
Bakersfield scored a touchdown and two field goals on its first three possessions of the second half. The Renegades drove 88 yards in 15 plays on their first possession, capped by Reggie Williams’ 11-yard touchdown run.
Williams (55 yards in 14 carries), Eddie Harvey (53 in 12) and Angus Sumlin (53 in 15) led a Renegade offense that outgained Pierce, 290 yards to 157, and ran 49 second-half plays to the Brahmas’ 15.
Pierce tailback LaShante Parker, the conference’s leading rusher, gained a game-high 119 yards, but it took him 27 carries to do so.
The game ended in bizarre fashion when a fight broke out between family and friends of Pica and Pierce reserve quarterback Cesar Parra.
At least 20 Pierce players went into the stands to try to break up the melee before Bakersfield police arrived and restored order.