It was probably closer than the actual final score.
But on Homecoming afternoon at Reedley High School's Sal Gonzalez Field on Saturday afternoon, the Reedley College Tiger football team improved to 7-0 in 2018 with a 31-7 victory over the 1-6 San Jose City College Jaguars.
Three tough contests remain on the RC schedule. This Saturday, Reedley heads up Highway 99 for a 6 pm matchup in Stadium 76 with the Merced College Blue Devils. The Tigers' final regular season game is set for Nov. 3 in a 1 pm matchup with the slumping Monterey Peninsula College Lobos. On Nov. 10, Reedley heads to Rabobank Stadium in Salinas for a 6 pm contest with the undefeated Hartnell College Panthers.
Hartnell improved to 7-0 last Saturday with a 34-27 win over Merced while Monterey Peninsula lost its third straight after falling to DeAnza 48-35. DeAnza has now won six straight after a season-opening 57-47 loss to the Tigers.
Reedley is expected to remain the top-ranked American Division team in Northern California when the new rankings were released after press time.
Against San Jose, the Tigers survived three turnovers (two lost fumbles and an interception. In the second half, the Tiger defense came up big with a pair of stops inside the 10-yard line.
All but seven of the game's points came in the first half. Reedley opened the scoring on their first possession by marching 68 yards in seven plays capped by a 9-yard scoring pass from Randall Johnson to Andy Pierre-Antoine.
"Our defense got the big turnover to spark us," said Reedley head coach Eric Marty. "We either start fast on offense or turn the ball over." The Tigers were able to cash in on the turnover. "That got us going again."
Marty was pleased with the Tigers' performance on third down on both sides of the ball. Reedley converted on 11 of 17 third down plays while San Jose was only 2 of 12 and missed on their first six attempts.
San Jose came back to tie the contest late in the first quarter on a touchdown just seven plays after a lost fumble. But Reedley took the lead for good as they capped a 16-play drive with a 40-yard field goal by Ryan Richter.
A Raul Montalvo (who led the Tigers in tackles with five) fumble recovery at the San Jose 13 set up a Johnson touchdown run of three yards.
Before the end of the first half, Reedley capped a 92-yard touchdown drive in 13 plays on a 12-yard pass from Johnson to Jamon Chambers with 7.8 seconds left in the first half.
The only scoring in the second half came on Reedley's first possession as Johnson connected with Nicholas Clarke for an 8-yard score.
Statistically, Reedley had 29 first downs compared to just 11 for the Jaguars and finished with a total net yardage advantage of 411-154. San Jose finished with only 22 net rushing yards after netting minus-5 in the first half.
"In conference play, our defense has gotten dialed in and played great solid football," said Coach Marty. After giving up 130 points in the first five games, the defense has allowed only 13 points in the last two wins. "That makes it a lot easier to win football games," added the coach.
Reedley remains one of only four undefeated community college football teams in the state, joining Hartnell, Fullerton, and College of the Canyons.
By Will Goldbeck