ARC drives 63 yards in 10 plays to win over CCSF


American River College quarterback Jihad Vercher drops back to pass from his own endzone during ARC’s 20-17 win over City College of San Francisco on Sept. 26, 2015. Vercher threw for 280 yards, one touchdown and was 5-8 for 33 yards on the game winning drive. (Photo by Barbara Harvey)

Kevin Sheridan

As the offense of American River College’s football team took the field with 3:19 to play in the game, linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk admitted he couldn’t bear to watch.

“It’s just so much emotions going through my head and I’m glad that we finished,” he said. “Coach (Osterhout) emphasizes everyday, every play, finish and we finished.”

Starting at its own 18-yard line, ARC’s offense got a boost from two consecutive City College of San Francisco penalties that moved the ball to its own 43-yard line.

“We didn’t want to give (CCSF) the ball, we wanted to eat up the clock, and just be smart and that’s what we did,” said ARC offensive coordinator Doug Grush.

“We didn’t want to give them any time, they were just chucking the ball up, getting (pass interference) and all that garbage, so we just wanted to be smart and have the last possession of the game be with us,” he continued.

A pass for no gain to running back Armand Shyne on first down and a four yard pass to wide receiver Zack Suarez set up a key third down and six from the ARC 47-yard line.

On that play, Vercher started to run to his left before pitching the ball to wide receiver Marc Ellis, who was running the other way.

Ellis then ran across to the other side of the field, which had been vacated by the CCSF defense.

The run, which was the first of Ellis’s career, was for eight yards and a first down to keep the drive alive.

“We called the play and I saw that there was no one on that side, so I took it,” said Ellis. “I had to get the first down and I did.”

After the conversion, ARC wide receiver Torian Williams drew a 15-yard pass interference  penalty from CCSF defensive back Roman Grace which put the ball on the CCSF 30 yard line.

A quick four yard completion to wide receiver Damen Wheeler set ARC up with second and six from CCSF’s 26-yard line.

On that play ARC wide receiver Will McClure, who had not caught a pass in the game to that point, ran a jive-and-go that left him wide open to make the catch.

On the play, Vercher faked a screen pass as McClure feigned a block before running a go route.

He stumbled, but still hauled in the Vercher pass at the one yard line.

“We did a good job setting up the jive,” said McClure. “It’s a smokescreen to the outside. I acted like a blocker and then slipped by when the safety jumped up.”

According to McClure, ARC’s coaches run that play “every day in practice or a couple times a week at least.”

“It was awesome,” he said. “Coaches do a good job of simulating pressure in practice so we can come prepared for moments like that.”

On the very next play, Vercher fumbled the direct snap, but able to recover it as a CCSF defender was closing in.

For Vercher, it was his second fumble of the day inside the five yard line, the first of which was recovered by CCSF to stop a potential scoring drive.

Prior to what would be the game winning kick, Vercher said that some members of CCSF’s special teams players were taunting ARC kicker Sam Keil.

Before the 25-yard game winning kick, Vercher said that members of CCSF’s special teams were taunting Keil in an effort to distract him.

“That’s the most nerve wracking kick you can do in a game ever,” said Keil. “My head hurts a little bit from all the head butting. But it feels good.”