A Bakersfield College security officer stood by each sideline and five penalty flags littered the field. Eventually, Bakersfield College athletic director Sandi Taylor and head coach Jeff Chudy walked to the middle of the field to speak with East Los Angeles head coach Bobby Godinez, other staff from the school and the game officials.
Bakersfield College’s Blake Brown and Christian Wickham had just been ejected from the game, apparently for fighting. East LA’s Tasi Sofa and Nathan Tavita were sent off too, after punches were thrown on both sides.
The Renegades led 58-17 with 13:55 left in the fourth quarter at the time. Eight players had been ejected up to that point. Athletics representatives from both schools and the game officials agreed to call the game early, giving BC the 58-17 win.
"It was mutually agreed upon with both coaches and the athletic directors and the officials," Taylor said. "We felt it was in the best interest for our student athletes to discontinue, stop playing. It was a safety issue."
Chudy was not available for comment after the game.
"He really wasn’t that upset because he knew they started the fights, but he was upset at us for retaliating," BC punter Carson Olivas said of Chudy's message to his team. "That’s the one thing we can control, is our actions, but we let our emotions get the best of us."
BC (5-3, 2-1 National Northern) had led 24-17 at halftime. As the Renegades scored 28 unanswered points to start the second half, the game unraveled, leading to cheap shots and players being thrown out of the game.
The ejections started after BC running back Elisha Ortiz ran in a score, untouched from 9 yards out. There had been a personal foul on East LA the previous play. After Nathan De Jager’s extra point, the players on the field crowded together jostling back and forth. East LA’s Carlos Alvarez earned an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and BC’s Eaamon Sullivan was thrown out of the game for throwing a punch.
Cameron Roberson returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown for the Renegades. The extra point gave BC a 45-17 lead. Well after the PAT kick, East Los Angeles defensive lineman Ben Key slammed a Bakersfield College offensive lineman to the ground. A large scrum formed with shoving on both sides. Key ripped off his helmet and threw it across the field.
Key was ejected for throwing a punch. Bakersfield’s Marcus Furlow was also removed from the game for striking. Coaches from both sides had to pull their players off the field.
On the ensuing kickoff, Renegades linebacker Nick Maiden hit East LA returner Terrell Robinson in the head after Robinson had gone airborne because of a hit to the leg. Maiden was ejected for targeting.
The third quarter took about 57 minutes to play because of the excessive penalties and stoppages.
The final straw came after BC’s Isaiah Martin ran in a 1-yard touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Tavita, from East LA, appeared to get hit in the back of the head several times. He retaliated by pounding Renegades offensive lineman Blake Brown in the back of the head.
The campus security officers converged on the scrum. So did officials and staff for both teams. Players had forcibly to be seperated, and teammates didn’t appear to be holding one another back anymore.
East LA players yelled with people in the stands behind the bench. More campus security officers headed for the stands.
It all prompted the meeting between the athletics officials and the ending of the game with 13:55 left in the fourth quarter.
After the game, a staff member for the East LA team came into the press box to apologize for the actions of his team.
"For the most part, on our side, we got to do a better job of handling things when things go south," Ortiz said. "It was a great team effort and win but there's some things we got to clean up because it led to some bad consequences. We just got to look forward now and kind of regroup this week."