ARC offense explodes in the first half in 44-24 win


American River College wide receiver Khalil Hudson catches a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jihad Vercher during ARC football’s 44-24 win over San Joaquin Delta College on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. Vercher threw for 287 yards and 5 touchdowns. (Photo by Barbara Harvey)

Kevin Sheridan

American River College’s football team moved to 2-1 with a 44-24 win over San Joaquin Delta College in a game where ARC quarterback Jihad Vercher threw for five touchdowns and ran for one more.

Vercher finished the game 16 for 31 with 287 yards, and also rushed for a touchdown and ran in a two-point conversion in the third quarter.   

ARC put the game out of reach by scoring 33 points in the first half much in the same way that it did against De Anza College in the previous week, and finished the game with 519 yards of total offense.

It also gained an average of 7.1 yards per play, and its first half touchdowns came on long drives that spanned 88, 75, 70, 67, and 62 yards.

On those drives, ARC was able to take advantage of SJDC’s cover zero defense as its corners were unable to hold up in man coverage.

As a result, Vercher’s touchdowns all came over the top for 29, 44, 39, 38, and 14 yards.

“Luckily we had more of the big plays. It’s not rhythmic. It’s either 80 yards or nothing,” said ARC offensive coordinator Doug Grush.

In the span of two weeks, ARC’s offense has put up a combined 909 yards of offense.

We were just hitting on all cylinders. All the guys, honestly, the connection is there. We pretty much been at it since January,” said quarterback Jihad Vercher.

After it built a 33-3 halftime lead, ARC got a scare when SJDC was able to claw its way back into the game when it scored 14 third quarter points to cut ARC’s lead to 16.

For ARC, it was the second time in as many weeks that the team struggled in the second half to move the ball.

After the game, Osterhout told his team that whatever he is telling them at halftime is “not registering.”

“We just got complacent, we gotta finish,” said Osterhout.

SJDC’s offense struggled throughout, as it gained 262 yards of total offense on 70 plays for an average of 3.7 yards per play.

It wasn’t until the third quarter that SJDC quarterback Arnold Kimble started to get into a rhythm, throwing two touchdowns, one to Alex Lee for a 29-yard touchdown and then Jaxon Wagner for a one-yard touchdown.

Kimble, who came into the game ranked sixth in the state with 71 completions, was unable to move the ball against ARC’s defense in the first half as he only threw for 75 yards.

“I felt like we did great (on defense). We always come out with a positive attitude,” said ARC linebacker and defensive captain Jordan Kunaszyk, who finished with eight tackles.

Kimble finished the game 20-39 for 165 yards and two touchdowns.

ARC also had 225 yards rushing led by Ce’von Mitchell-Ford’s 115 on just four carries, including a 76-yard run in the third quarter.

Starting running back Armand Shyne was pulled from the game after gaining 61 yards on six carries, a move that was motivated by his inability to pass block on blitzes by SJDC, according to running backs coach Mark Morris.

He was replaced by Austin Hines and Mitchell-Ford. Hines finished the game with 33 yards on 9 carries, gaining most of those yards on outside runs, but was unable to gain many yards in between the tackles.

ARC committed 15 penalties for 180 yards, and now has the 33rd most penalties in the state with 28 after three games.

“(We) just need to keep our composure, just need to cut down on penalties,” said ARC defensive back Leonard Nelson, who had an interception in the third quarter and finished with four tackles.

Next week, ARC will travel to San Francisco to play City College of San Francisco, the team that eliminated ARC from the state semi-finals last season on a last second game winning field goal.

CCSF will come into the game a perfect 3-0 after defeating Fresno City College 39-34.

“We got to bring everything. And they’re even tougher there, and that’s what you want. It’s the ultimate challenge, we love it. You want to play the big dogs, you want to beat the big dogs. That’s what it’s all about,” said Grush.