SANTA CLARITA — Brandon Jones and Elisha Ortiz both shook their heads as they trudged from the far side of the field back to the Bakersfield College sideline.
Neither had much time to talk with their respective position coaches about the read-option exchange they just fumbled before College of the Canyons’ Brandon Pierce was sprinting down the left sideline for a 39-yard touchdown run.
No. 11 Canyons (8-2, 4-1) dismantled No. 10 Bakersfield (7-3, 3-2) with a 44-28 win at Cougar Stadium in the final game of the regular season. The Pierce touchdown in the third quarter was COC’s 27th unanswered point and 28th point off six different Renegades turnovers.
The team’s six turnovers nearly matched its season total of eight coming into the game.
“You can’t turn the ball over six times,” head coach Jeff Chudy said. “That’s insane. … Bottom line: too many turnovers.”
Jones threw two interceptions and fumbled. Backup quarterback Cesar De Leon took over late in the third quarter and led the Renegades into the red zone for what would have been its first score since about 10 minutes left in the first half. But then running back Lameshio Hill coughed up the ball.
De Leon was picked off one drive later.
“I’m hurt,” Eddington said. “No words can explain how I’m feeling right now.”
The Renegades were looking for a bounce back win and defensive performance after a conference-title losing 48-38 loss to Ventura one week ago. Instead, BC fell embarrassingly flat. A team that lost one game in the first eight weeks dropped its final two of the regular season and missed out on a state playoff chance.
Bakersfield took a 14-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game and scored just one more offensive touchdown the rest of the contest. BC’s Taber Nylander returned an interception for a touchdown in garbage time for the final points of the game.
“I’m hurt,” Renegades defensive lineman Tyrrel Eddington said. “No words can explain how I’m feeling right now.”
When it was working, BC’s offense exploded for touchdowns of 48 and 58 yards. When it wasn’t, Canyons took the ball right back. Jones said he was trying to do too much. Chudy attributed all the errors to mental lapses. They ultimately spiraled out of control.
On defense, the problems from one week earlier continued. Canyons starting quarterback Andrew Brito threw for 391 yards — 297 in the first half — and two touchdowns. Receiver Desean Holmes eclipsed the 100-yard mark in the first half.
The Renegades’ man-to-man defense was burned over the top, as rainbow passes dropped in perfectly. Brito found the pockets in the zone Cover-2 on crossing routes. The Cougars totaled 580 yards of offense.
Canyons fired at will for 21 first downs in the first half. The Renegades had five. The Cougars were 6-of-8 in terms of scoring a touchdown or field goal in the red zone. BC was 0-for-4.
BC entered Saturday with a shot at the playoffs and left having to settle for a bowl game. Chudy still called the year great and that most teams don’t get to a bowl. But his players had a different tone.
“Hopefully, we can wake back up,” Eddington said, “and actually dial it in.”