In a season of hardship, it looked like things were finally going to swing the way of the Bakersfield College football team Saturday night.
But once again, misfortune hit late, as the Renegades saw a win literally slip through their fingers.
Long Beach quarterback Derrach West led two late touchdown drives and ran in the game-winner with 42 seconds left, and the 12th-ranked Vikings rallied from 10 points down to stun BC 23-20 in SCFA North play.
Despite another sluggish showing offensively, the Renegades looked to be in good position to pull the upset, when Paxton Winders got just enough of a 27-yard field goal, which sailed just over the cross bar despite being tipped, giving them a 20-10 lead with 10:24 to play.
Winders also had a 25-yard kick blocked in the third quarter. Earlier in the drive, he made a 38-yard kick, but BC elected to take the points off the board when Long Beach was called for roughing the kicker. They wouldn't get the score back.
Up to this point, the Vikings had gained just 23 yards in the second half. But West led an 11-play, 67-yard drive that culminated in a 1-yard Mason Bowen touchdown run. West ran for 29 yards on the drive and ended it with five straight completions.
After a three-and-out, the Vikings took over near midfield, and the elusive quarterback took advantage of a gassed Renegade defense that struggled to contain him in the pocket.
On third-and-1, Holden Williams looked to have West dead to rights, only for the quarterback to put his hand on the ground, spin free and run for a three-yard gain.
"He's a slippery guy," Renegade coach Jeff Chudy said. "I don’t know how many times we looked like we had him down and he got out of harm’s way.”
West made a mistake on the following play, sailing a pass down the sideline, directly to defensive back Damaris Herron. But the ball went in-and-out of Herron's hands, giving the Vikings another chance.
They took advantage. Throwing short passes to get his team to the 5-yard line, West again got outside the pocket and found a crease to the goal line, diving in just in front of the left pylon with 42 seconds to play.
The Renegade offense, which had just four first downs in the second half, couldn't extend the game, turning the ball over on downs on four plays.
The Renegades gained more yards via penalties (162) than they did with their offense (139). They also went 3-of-16 on third down and were nearly nine minutes worse than Long Beach in time of possession.
Having won eight consecutive home games entering the year, BC is 0-4 at Memorial Stadium this year. At 2-5 overall, its last four losses have been by a combined 15 points.
"I can’t quite remember a season where we’ve had these one-score games," Chudy said. "It just seems like, unfortunately, we’re not making the play when we need to make the play.”
Now at 0-2 in conference, the Renegades return to the road for two straight games, starting with a 6 p.m. kick at East LA next Saturday.
Long Beach 23, Bakersfield 20
LB 3 7 0 13 — 23
BC 0 14 3 3 — 20
LB - Flores 27 field goal
BC - Wingle 1 run (Winders kick)
BC - Delouth 13 pass from Wingle (Winders kick)
LB - Leets 6 pass from West (Flores kick)
BC - Winders 45 field goal
BC - Winders 27 field goal
LB - Bowen 1 run (Kick failed)
LB - West 5 run (Flores kick)
RUSHING — LB: Galloway 13-53, Patton 9-27, West 14-23, Bowen 3-2, Bowens 1-1, Watson 1-1, Team 1-(negative)6. BC: Martin 19-35, Jones 5-9, Delouth 4-6, Wingle 2-(negative)8
PASSING — LB: West 27-44-219-0. BC: Wingle 12=27-97-0
RECEIVING — LB: Bowens 9-63, Woodard 6-54, Leets 5-48, Bowen 4-27, Gallowya 1-12, Patton 1-11, Duran 1-4. BC: Austin 2-45, Randle 2-14, Edwards 3-13, Melouth 1-13, Soto 1-3, Beaty 1-0, Jones 1-(negative)3.
RECORDS: LB 5-2, 2-0. BC 2-5, 0-2.