Jake Cipres missed a potential game-winning field goal from 24 yards away with 10 seconds left as the Bakersfield Renegades held on to beat the Golden West Rustlers 20-19 Saturday afternoon in Huntington Beach.
Both teams struggled to string together offensive drives and combined for 18 punts on the day. In the end, it was the versatile Isaac Jernagin (four carries for 23 yards, six catches for 44 yards) who scored the game-winning 6-yard touchdown for BC with 3:40 remaining.
Rustlers quarterback Jake Retzlaff (18-of-30, 247 yards, two touchdowns) put Golden West in a position to win with two key fourth-and-6 passes on the Rustlers’ final drive, including one to Tanner Branson for 38 yards up the seam. But Cipres, who had already missed an extra point, hooked his kick wide right — and there was holding on Golden West (2-1) anyway.
In short, for BC (2-0 plus a forfeit win), whose Dylan Tooker blocked a punt for the second consecutive game, it was another win fueled by superior special teams play, despite a lackluster offense.
The game began with four consecutive three-and-outs before Golden West earned the game’s first first down on a 37-yard pass from Retzlaff to Jared Shaabani off a run-pass option, which set up a 1-yard touchdown run from Gianni Hurd to make it 6-0.
On its next drive BC punted again, but not before the Rustlers earned their first sack, from Khilyn Neal on the quarterback Garrett Castro, after which Castro did not return to the game due to an injury. Richard Lara (14-of-20, 170 yards, one touchdown) took over for the Renegades after splitting time with Castro against El Camino.
Then Tooker blocked Andrew Guzman’s punt, and Antonio Robinson, starting at running back after recording just six carries for two yards against El Camino, scored his first touchdown of the season to make it 7-6.
Golden West had a chance to retake the lead late in the second quarter, but on first and goal from the 3, Retzlaff and Mike Carrillo seemed confused about who would keep the ball on a read option, Carrillo fumbled, and Treavion Bell recovered for BC. The Renegades then drove 98 yards for a touchdown on their best offensive possession of the day, culminating in a 25-yard touchdown pass by Lara to make it 14-6.
BC did not pull away after this momentum swing. The Renegades punted on each of their next five drives as Retzlaff started to develop a rhythm, tossing a touchdown to Branson early in the third quarter, then the go-ahead score to John Ojelabi off his back foot while under pressure from Kaden Shelton halfway through the fourth.
An unlikely hero emerged for BC on the Renegades’ critical next drive: Jackson Sanchez. The freshman receiver from Shafter, who hadn’t made a catch in the game, snagged a pass from Lara for 22 yards on a tough second and 26 following holding and a sack. Then, on third and 5, Lara’s pass bounced off the outstretched hand of a Rustlers defensive back and into Sanchez’s stomach. The wideout corralled it at the 6-yard line and Jernagin scored on the next play.
BC travels to Mt. San Antonio College Saturday, while Golden West visits Riverside.