Butte falls in shootout to City College of San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO Facing offensively potent City

College of San Francisco, the Butte

College

football team found itself in the

shootout it never wanted to be in.

In the end, the Roadrunners simply ran out of ammo.

Butte’s bid to rally back from a 17-point, fourth-quarter

deficit fell short when Jon Hays’ do-or-die pass to the end zone

was intercepted to lock up a 37-34 Rams victory Saturday, putting a

wild ending on a thrilling NorCal Conference battle between two of

the nation’s top-10 programs that each entered play at 5-0.

“Obviously it hurts, and our kids would rather be talking about

a win right now,” Butte coach Jeff Jordan said, “but what a great

college

football game. We played every

minute thinking we could win it and we had a chance. I’ll never

forget this one.”

Those who saw it might have trouble rifling through memory for

all the details and momentum swings, because there were plenty as

the game transformed from a battle for possession and field

position into precisely the kind of high-scoring showdown Jordan

had dreaded coming into play. The Rams, ranked third in the

JCGridiron.com national poll and also in the state, enjoyed a

hugely productive performance out of quarterback Steele Jantz, who

liberally sprinkled in touchdown passes as he torched the

Roadrunner secondary all afternoon. Jantz connected on 19 of his 32

pass attempts, providing 343 yards through the air and four

touchdowns when all was said and done. He led one productive drive

after another.

And yet, there were the Roadrunners, renowned for their

grind-it-out style, counterpunching each big Rams haymaker with one

of their own. The key to all of it was Rashad Ross, whose

second-half kickoff returns for 70 and 93 yards both went for

scores and recharged a Butte defense that was on the field far

longer than it had ever planned on being.

When Ross fielded San Francisco’s kickoff at his own 7 with

14:38 left in the fourth quarter, Butte had already fallen behind

37-20.

Less than 10 minutes later, the Roadrunners had drawn to within

a field goal when Hays crossed the plane on a sneak play and after

Butte forced the Rams’ third fumble of the game on what was

supposed to be San Francisco’s death-knell drive, the Roadrunners

were poised to drive from midfield and possibly win it themselves

after Hays converted a third-and-9 to reach the Rams’ 36-yard

line.

Travis Davidson, who had 139 yards on 29 carries with two more

touchdowns to add to his state-leading total, appeared to have a

clear lane to the end zone on second down, but a San Francisco

defender managed to save the game with a diving tackle to trip him

up “literally, it was a shoestring tackle,” Jordan later said and

Hays threw incomplete on third-and-7 from the 33.

His last pass was a deep ball into the end zone for Anthony

Spain, who had defender Allen Chapman beaten by a step, but the

ball hung up in the stiff San Francisco winds, Chapman came down

with it, and the Rams kneeled the clock away to hearty ovation from

their home fans.

After its 5-0 start, Butte is now facing an 0-1 record in the

part of the season that will be weighed with more significance.

Last season, an equally demoralizing loss to the Rams at Cowan

Stadium provided a hangover effect for nearly two weeks before the

Roadrunners righted the ship. But Ross, whose dazzling return of a

squib kick the Rams had no intention of even sending his way, said

a setback to a high-caliber opponent wasn’t necessarily the end of

the world quite yet.

“We played good, all the way down to the wire, and they just

made more big plays than us,” Ross said. “Last year, just like

this, they stole it from us and it kicked us out of our season. But

this season ain’t over. We ain’t gonna let that happen.”

It’s hard to imagine that Butte will see an offensive squad as

gaudy as the Rams fielded on Saturday. Aaron Horn had a game-high

eight catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns, including

back-breaking hauls of 51 and 65 yards, and Royce Spencer added

another seven receptions for 104 yards and two more scores. On top

of it all, San Francisco got 16 effective carries from Jimmy

Haynes, who finished with 85 yards and punched in what stood as the

game-winning touchdown with 14:55 left to play on a 2-yard run.

While big plays might have been the story, though, the

difference in the game was an extra-point miss and a two-point

conversion both happened on the same play when Nigel Malone picked

up Winston Fox’s blocked extra-point attempt after Davidson’s

second-quarter touchdown run, then ran the length of the field to

make it 9-6 instead of 7-7. Butte rapidly took the lead coming out

of the halftime break, when Ross had his first return for a score,

the Roadrunners forced a punt and then Davidson took one 30 yards

to the end zone for the 20-16 advantage at 12:56. But it was

short-lived Jantz hit Horn on a 65-yarder two drives later at 9:02

to restore the Rams’ lead, and San Francisco never looked back.

“What I’m most proud about is that we kept making plays to put

ourselves in position to win. Every play they made, we answered

back,” Jordan said. “It hurts, but losing like this to a team like

that isn’t something we’re going to be ashamed of.”