WEED, Calif. — It wasn’t the cleanest performance, but American River College was able to open up their Mid-Empire Conference schedule with a 36-21 road win over College of the Siskiyous on Saturday, Oct.15.
Behind a 104 yard rushing performance by Devonte Booker–the first for a Beavers running back in 2011–ARC overcame injuries and a pre-dawn bus ride to hold off the Eagles in Weed, Calif.
The Beavers departed the athletic department parking lot at 6 a.m. on the dot, and the early rise reared its ugly head in a less than stellar second quarter, as American River let a 17-0 first quarter lead slip to a 23-14 halftime score as the Eagles completed two long touchdown passes in the second quarter.
The 14 points given up by the Beavers Saturday doubled that of all five of the previous second quarters combined this season.
“In the second quarter we just kind of relaxed and no one really stayed on the trottle and I didn’t really like it much,” ARC head coach Jerry Haflich said.
Halfich gave his team a not-so PG halftime speech which seemed to fire up the ARC defense, holding Siskiyous to just seven second half points, led
by defensive end Thomas Evans two fumble recoveries and a key interception late in the fourth quarter by Genesis Grimes that sealed the victory.
“We really came out in the second half and showed everyone that we are (an undefeated) team,” Evans said.
Despite his worst throwing performance thus far in a record-setting season, freshman quarterback Andy McAlindon (27-41 181 1 TD) was not ready to make excuses for the sloppy performance on the 4 hour-plus long bus ride from Sacramento up I-5 to Weed.
“You can’t use that as an excuse. As a football team, you have to travel and go play,” McAlindon said.” Maybe it had an effect, but it’s definitely not an excuse.”
McAlindon did show off his running ability in the third quarter as he ran down the left sideline for a 48-yard touchdown run. But, he was sacked four times and was not as effective as he has been in previous performances this season.
“Andy played like a freshman. Nothing bad, just made some decisions that put us in situations that he hadn’t all season,” Haflich said. “I think the first sack got to him a little bit, but I am not complaining. It’s a win.”
The defense, despite giving up three 30-yard plus scoing plays, was opportunistic.
Along with the two fumble recoveries by Evans, the Beavers picked off two passes, including one by cornerback Clifford Redmond–who returned it for a 33-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The defense also recovered a fumble early in the first quarter after the Eagles completed an end-around pass from wideout Clay Cavender to Xzavious Harrison, who fumbled the pass while attempting to dive into the end zone.
Adding to an already depleted starting defense, the Beavers (6-0, 1-0 MEC) watched two starting linebackers go down with injuries Saturday afternoon.
Leading tackler Terry Easmon was hobbled and on the sideline for most of the second half with a leg injury.
Freshman Samson Faifili went down after a tackle with 1:40 left in the game, and laid on the field for over 20 minutes before the training staff and paramedics helped Faifili onto a stretcher with his neck held in place into the ambulance.
“He is going to be fine, it was just precautionary. He had feelings in his hands and fingers and had a really strong grip,” Halfich said. He also noted that in over two decades of coaching, this was the first time he had a player removed from the field via ambulance and stated he was ’emotional’ despite the positive prognosis for Faifili.
The Beavers will travel to the East Bay to play Contra Costa College on Oct. 22 before returning home for the conference home opener against Feather River College on Oct. 29 at 1 p.m.