Despite outgaining their opponent by nearly 300 yards and a solid defensive performance, the American River College football team lost their first game of the season Saturday, falling to the visiting Butte College 31-28.
ARC committed six turnovers in the game, four of which Butte was able to turn into 24 points. In fact, Butte’s only score that didn’t come off of an ARC turnover was a 95-yard kickoff return by Marvel Harris.
ARC head coach Jon Osterhout was frank after the game, blaming the loss solely on the team’s mental mistakes.
“It was our lack of taking care of the football,” said Osterhout, who also indicated penalties as a reason for the loss.
As well as turnovers, ARC committed 12 penalties for 115 yards lost. ARC’s last penalty of the game made sure they didn’t get a shot at a game winning drive.
ARC defensive back Robert Sanders was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct during a timeout before a second down for Butte. At the time, the defense was dominating Butte, and had two timeouts left in the game that could have ensured ARC would get the ball again.
Instead, the flag gave Butte a first down, and the team kneeled it’s way to only seven seconds left in the game on fourth down. Butte punted short, and ARC receiver Jjuan Muldrow could not catch the bouncing ball from going out of bounds with no time left on the clock.
Osterhout said after the game that Sanders was penalized because he was ”being a little too demonstrative towards the official” while complaining about taking a hit to the head from Butte on a previous play.
Osterhout disagreed with both the reasoning behind the penalty and the timing.
“In a championship type of game, with a lot on the line, to put (the game) in the hands of the officials, I don’t necessarily agree with (that),” said Osterhout.
Defensive back Malcolm Scott said, “Whatever the call was, you can’t come after the ref.”
“No matter what happens, as a team or as a player on the field, you have to keep your composure … personally, I was pretty frustrated as well, but we can’t have that when we’re trying to win a game,” said Scott.
The medium-sized home crowd was livid with the call, screaming threats and obscenities at the officiating crew. Some seemed to be joking when they threatened the referees with robbery and physical abuse, but an alarming number seemed all too serious.
On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Tanner Trosin and a platoon of running backs racked up yards and looked strong, but would like to have a few plays back if they could.
Trosin went 24-39, with 300 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions in the loss, his season high for interceptions thrown in a game.
One of those interceptions was tipped and fell into a defender’s arms, but at least two other passes by Trosin could have been picked off, if not for being dropped by defenders.
It was also the second straight week that Trosin, usually a frequent and dangerous rusher, looked hesitant to leave the pocket after suffering an ankle sprain during a game against Feather River two weeks ago.
Running back Tyree Hanson lead the team in rushing with 57 yards on eight attempts, but fumbled twice, both times recovered by Butte.
But perhaps the most avoidable turnover of the day belonged to ARC’s leading receiver Jjuan Muldrow, who also serves as punt returner for the Beavers.
Inside the ARC 20-yard line, waiting to return a punt, Muldrow had to back up to the ten-yard line to follow the punt. Typically, a punt that near the end zone would be passed on. But Muldrow went for it, and it sailed over his outstretched arms.
But then, the ball bounced back towards Muldrow and hit him from behind, then becoming a live ball and a muffed punt return. Butte recovered at ARC’s one yard line, and scored a touchdown on the next play.
All of these turnovers added up to a tough game for ARC’s stout defense, which deserved the compliments it was given by Osterhout.
“I think the defense played outstanding,” said Osterhout. “I thought the defense played very well against a very potent offense.”
Scott agreed, and indicated serious frustration with the result of the game.
“We did everything we could except play offense,” said Scott.