It's not that Bakersfield College abandoned its running attack in the first two games this season. It just wasn't very consistent.
That changed big-time Saturday night. The Renegades blasted the Fullerton College defense for 260 net rushing yards and rolled to a 31-17 win at Memorial Stadium.
BC (2-1) had only 194 rushing yards in its first two games, including an abysmal 64 a week earlier in a loss to Mount San Antonio.
"We challenged them," said Carl Dean, BC's offensive coordinator. "They were obviously disappointed on how we played against Mount SAC. Even against Santa Ana (a 36-19 BC win when the Renegades had 130 rushing yards) we were not pleased with the running game, and we didn't do anything last week.
"We wanted them to step up and play better, and we feel like they did. We felt like we could run the ball against them."
Jalen Sykes had 157 yards on 29 carries, including a 19-yard touchdown run. He sidestepped would-be tacklers several times and kept driving up the field in an impressive performance.
"Before the game, Coach (Jeff) Chudy challenged the offensive line and the backs to be more consistent, and tonight we came out and did it," Sykes said.
BC had 60 running plays from scrimmage compared to only 19 pass attempts by quarterback Brian Burrell. Sykes did most of the work, but freshman Curtis McGregor was also effective with 85 yards on 20 carries, including a 5-yard TD run.
And BC ate up the clock with lengthy drives. The Renegades went 92 yards on 17 plays capped by Mc- Gregor’s TD in the second quarter that took 7:32 off the clock. A 14-play, 83-yard drive in the third quarter, finished off by Burrell’s 1-yard TD run, lasted 14 plays and took 6:48 off the clock.
“That’s a thing of beauty. There’s no question about that,” Chudy said. “It seemed like we had the ball the whole third quarter.”
Over the final three quarters, BC ran 61 plays from scrimmage to 33 by Fullerton. And five of those Hornets’ plays were punts.
Fullerton simply was unable to stop BC from piling up first downs.
“We took what they gave us,” Chudy said. “Our O-line stepped up and played better. Our backs ran (hard), and our wideouts probably blocked better. It takes a lot of moving parts to make it all work. I was proud how we responded.”
Defensively, BC bounced back from its woeful tackling game against Mount SAC. Fullerton, which relies on a running attack, had 73 rushing yards in the first quarter but only 46 rushing yards the rest of the way. And the Hornets only threw for 76 yards.
“We thought if we could get them to throw the ball it would be to our advantage,” Chudy said. “We had guys running to the backs, they had their eyes in the right spots and we had guys running through the ball carriers.”
“We had to regroup to get back together,” said sophomore linebacker Keylon Hollis, who had two sacks and hit Fullerton quarterback Conor Bednarski several other times as he was throwing the ball.
Burrell had a season-low 84 passing yards on 9-of-19 passing.
“I’m OK with that and Brian’s OK with it as long as we get the job done,” Dean said.
“Believe me, we thought we had them set up for play-action, but they weren’t stopping us. Sometimes you’ve got to put away the urge. You don’t want to find yourself to be in second-and-10.”
BC plays at Ventura next Saturday at 6 p.m.