The 20th win might have been the hardest for American River College.
On the night when Sacramento City College unveiled the new turf and amenities at the refurbished Hughes Stadium, the Beavers needed a strong second half to keep the win streak alive with a 38-23 victory over the Panthers on Friday, Sept. 7.
The Beavers, ranked fourth in the state and 16th nationally, have not lost a football game since October of 2010.
After the game, ARC head coach Jerry Haflich said he knew it wasn’t a pretty first half.
“It was a combination of things,” Halfich said. “We had six or seven penalties in the second quarter and it just killed drives and we couldn’t keep it together.”
After halftime, the Beavers made adjustments on defense to secure the ball, reduce turnovers and force them on the Panthers.
A key fumble recovery off a muffed punt and three interceptions—two by Zane Petty—in the fourth quarter sealed the victory for the Beavers.
Early in game, however, looked like it was going to be another blowout for the Beavers.
In what seemed like a power move, Haflich elected to have Sac City re-kick the opening kickoff after the ball sailed out of bounds instead of taking the ball at the 35-yard line. The decision worked in the Beavers favor as Devontae Booker took the return back for a 95-yard touchdown return.
Booker rushed for nearly 170 yards and two rushing touchdowns Friday night.
Then Jakori Ford dislocated his kneecap after celebrating touchdown run in first quarter that gave the Beavers a 13-0 lead. Ford was on his back on the turf for nearly 20 minutes before taken off the field on a stretcher. The injury and time lapse seemed to play against the momentum the Beavers had taking an early 13-0 lead.
Sac City also used a muffed punt return, as well as an onside kick and fourth down conversions to go along with a varied spread passing attack by sophomore quarterback Ronald Beverly to take a 20-19 halftime lead.
“We were just privileged to be on the same field with them in the first half,” Sac City head coach Dannie Walker said. “In the second half, we made a costly turnover on special teams it was two mistakes and we can’t make them and expect to beat a team like this.”
It was the first time the Beavers trailed at the half since Nov. 13, 2010. Coincidently, that game was also at Hughes Stadium against the Panthers.
“The new stadium looks great,” Haflich said. “It has great history here, but the history for me here is not so good. We’ve struggled every year here. The turf looks great and it was good to come out on top.”