The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
Now that’s a little more like it.
A week after putting up just 105 yards of total offense in a 14-7 win, the College of San Mateo came into Saturday’s game against a tough Modesto team knowing there was no way they could put forth a similar effort and expect to win.
“There was a history lesson of the traditions here with CSM football and the offense and the expectations and the responsibility for that,” said Bulldogs head coach Bret Pollack. “There were some conversations about that. I think they responded well to that. I told them, you have to make some changes, I have to make some changes. If we forget about what happened last Friday night, it’s going to repeat itself.”
CSM recommitted itself to their bread and butter — the rushing attack — Saturday afternoon. By the end of the first quarter, they surpassed last week’s total yardage, and when the dust settled, their 453 yards of offense were good for a 49-32 victory over the Pirates.
“Last week we didn’t come out as strong as we should have,” said DJ Peluso, who ran for 124 yards on 16 carries in the win. “So, our coach made sure we did what we needed to go behind the offensive line. This week, [the difference was] the mindset. Last week, we under-estimated our opponent and didn’t come out as strongly as we should have. This week, we made sure we didn’t do that.”
“I loved the fact we didn’t turn the ball over,” Pollack said. “That we held them to only 79 plays — because they want to run 100. I like that we rebounded from last week’s 100 yards, knocked them off the ball and got after it a little bit. We didn’t really need to throw it too much today. And to be honest, when you’re playing [Modesto], if you go three-and-out throws, it just taxes your defense. And there was a point in that gain when it was starting to teeter. And we said, just pound it.”
CSM only attempted nine passes in the game, completing five for 54 yards. The rest of the way, the Bulldogs ran the ball at will against Modesto.
The College of San Mateo actually trailed three minutes into the game when Modesto kicked a 28-yard field goal. It was also around that time CSM turned the ball over on a fumble. Fortunately for them, the turnover problems that have blemished the 2013 season stopped on Saturday with that fumble. From there, the Bulldogs played a relatively clean (see: 12 penalties) football game.
Peluso put the Dogs up on the ensuing drive from 1-yard out. It was the beginning of a big day for the former El Camino product. In all, Peluso found the end zone three times.
The Pirates fought back, retaking the lead three minutes later on a Teejay Gordon touchdown pass. But once again, Peluso and the Bulldogs responded by going 65 yards on six plays to lead 14-10 after one quarter of football.
Modesto pulled to within a point early in the second period before the CSM offense really took off. Jared Puamau had a nice game on the ground, filling in at the slot position with a couple of injuries to Quincy Nelson and Robert Johnson. Puamau was rewarded for his efforts by capping off a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a seven-yard run to put CSM up eight.
With the momentum in hand, CSM keep the foot on the accelerator offensively and let Peluso do more of the driving. No. 21 didn’t disappoint, taking a toss off the left side, he bolted down the sideline for a 65-yard touchdown run to put the Bulldogs up 28-13 with 3:20 left in the half.
The Bulldogs weren’t quite done. Casey Wichman found Michael Latu on a bit of screen play and the former San Mateo Bearcat maneuvered his way into the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown to further the distance between his team and the Pirates.
But Modesto didn’t take those punches sitting down. They began their big surge of the game at the end of the second quarter and into the third. The Pirates came in averaging 500 yards of offense this season and players like Gordon and James Sams showed they could move the ball a bit.
Casey Wichman managed to sandwich a 25-yard run touchdown in between a trio of Modesto scores and Gordon actually got the Pirates to within 10 with 3:24 left in the game.
“They’re going to get their yards,” Pollack said. “But at the same time they’re wearing out your defense, you’re wearing out there’s. And it becomes an attrition battle. And we were able to do that because we didn’t turn the ball over.
“Yards don’t mean anything against a team like that. Yards have never a game. They don’t keep score by yards, they keep score by points. The key was stopping them at right time.”
The key was also the CSM defense and their ability to shut out Modesto in the fourth quarter. The only scoring that happened there was a three-yard run by George Naufahu with two minutes left in the game to put the Bulldogs up 17.
Wichman finished with 120 yards rushing on the day. Latu added 78 and Puamau had 67. The Bulldogs are now 4-0.