With 47 seconds left in the game and his team hanging onto a 45-42 lead, the City College of San Francisco football team had a dilemma: Kick the field goal and give Mount San Antonio College the ball back with a chance to win the game, or go for the first down and ice the game?
Coach George Rush decided to go for it and the decision paid off as the Rams won the state junior college championship.
Freshman quarterback Turner Baty connected with wide receiver Daniel McKinney for a 20-yard game-clinching touchdown, lifting the host Rams to a 52-42 victory over Mount SAC, and their eighth California Community College Athletic Association championship. CCSF lost to the Mounties in last year’s title game played at Mount SAC.
“The biggest play of the game,” said Rush, his face expressing jubilation. “McKinney made a fabulous catch, hung onto the ball. I’m just so proud of our kids and coaching staff. It was exciting.”
CCSF (12-0) led 38-14 going into the fourth quarter, and the defense had just stuffed Mount SAC at the goal line — the Rams’ second goal-line stand of the day — and the only question seemed to be how much the team would win by.
However, the Mounties (10-2) put a scare into everyone on the CCSF side, scoring two touchdowns in a 1-minute, 15-second span, pulling within 38-28.
Then after the Rams were forced to punt, the Mounties drove 94 yards, capped off by Cameron Dean’s 38-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Alonzo Agwuenu to cut the deficit to 38-35.
Dean finished the game 25-for-46 for 344 yards and five touchdown passes, with one interception. Agwuenu finished with a game-high nine receptions for 165 yards and three touchdowns.
“We played soft in the secondary, but it was softer than I anticipated,” Rush said. “I figured we’d control the ball, run the clock a little bit.”
What followed was the biggest offensive drive of the Rams’ season.
With all the momentum on the Mount SAC sideline, the Rams converted two key third downs, and on first down from the Mounties 40, Baty lofted a pass down the seam to receiver Dezmon Epps, whose momentum took him into the end zone for the score.
Baty finished 23-for-43 for 348 yards and five touchdown passes, and, despite two interceptions, helped the Rams hang onto the game and reclaim the state championship.
“All season long, we’ve been a very resilient team,” said Baty, named the game’s Most Valuable Player. “Honestly, I didn’t play my best, made some mistakes, but [my team] picked me up. My line did a great job protecting me, receivers made plays. This is awesome.”
McKinney, who carried the sting from last season’s championship loss to Mount SAC all offseason, stood off to the sideline, looking at the crowd shaking his head.
“It’s a dream come true,” said McKinney, who played in his final game as a Ram. “I never won a state championship or national championship.