Marcus Topete displayed his leg strength at the right time on Saturday.
The Live Oak product seemed to have given his Yuba College football teammates momentum in the second half of Saturday’s Pacific-7 and homecoming game against Foothill College. But the Owls’ offense scored, also at the right moments in the final quarter, which led to posting a 35-24 win over the 49ers.
“We kind of knew we had this effort in us,” said Yuba College head coach Mick Pettengill.
The game was knotted at 21-21 midway through the third quarter. Then Yuba College (0-2 in the Pacific-7, 1-4) recovered a fumble at Foothill College’s 38-yard line.
After gaining only a combined nine yards in which the 49ers lost five yards on a false start call, Topete and the 49ers’ field goal unit trotted onto the field. With place-holder Matthew Hooper holding the football, Topete watched the football sail through the uprights for a 54-yard field goal with 5:24 left in the quarter. That gave Yuba College its only lead in the game at 24-21.
“He’s got foot,” said Pettengill of Topete, who has kicked 51 and 49-yard field goals earlier this season. “I don’t know if it was going with the wind or not, but he had plenty of (space). I’m very happy for him.”
Yuba College had another chance on offense after the field goal. That’s when 49ers defensive back Charles Farmer picked off an Owls pass off quarterback Cam Rottler after the kickoff to Foothill College. Farmer’s interception was one of many for the 49ers.
“I was happy to see the defense fighting their butts off,” Pettengill said.
But the 49ers, who saw the ball spotted at their own 20-yard line after the interception, gained six yards on three plays and punted from their own 26-yard line.
The 49ers’ punt led to the Owls taking the lead with exactly 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Rottler completed a 19-yard pass to wide receiver Daniel Bocanegra. Justin Beach booted the extra-point for the Owls’ 28-24 lead.
The 49ers’ offense was unable to generate movement of the football in their final two possessions of the game, as both drives stalled in Yuba College territory.
Yuba College’s first offensive drive ended when Foothill College cornerback Dave Moreno intercepted a pass from 49ers quarterback Corry Sanders.
That turnover led to the Owls’ final touchdown of the game at 2:12 on the clock. Rottler hit wide receiver Nate Strong, who ran a post pattern, and was strong enough to elude past two Yuba College defenders for a 20-yard touchdown. The extra-point made it 35-24.
Sanders was the 49ers’ third of four quarterback who played in the game, taking all but one snap in the second half. Matthew Hooper, a freshman who is one of four 49er quarterbacks on the roster, took a snap prior before Sanders played the rest of the game.
Sanders played for Mason Whitfield, who lasted only one series toward the end of the second quarter but was more than effective before leaving the game after knocked down hard by a Foothill College defender. Whitfield completed 4 of 5 passes for 21 yards and rushed two times for 16 yards.
Whitfield substituted for 49er starting quarterback Patel Vashisth, who appeared to have suffered a left leg injury after scrambling for yards earlier in the second quarter. He was on crutches in the second half.
“Two quarterbacks go down, and a third one comes in,” said Pettengill, who has four quarterbacks listed on the roster. “Everybody was stepping up. Nobody panicked, nobody said anything.”
Yuba College tied the game at 21-21 with 41.2 seconds left in the second quarter. Sanders connected with wide receiver Daniel Davis on a 21-yard scoring pass. Topete booted the extra-point to tie the game.
“Offensively, we moved the ball and did some good things,” Pettengill said. “I thought we matched them pretty well in the first half, all the way to the third quarter.”
The 49ers cut the Owls’ lead to 21-14 with 7:51 remaining in the same quarter. Vashisth, before his injury, completed a 17-yard pass up the middle to Tayshawn Clayton, who used his speed and strength in his 5-foot-10 and 180-pound frame to break free from a group of Foothill College defenders and into the north end zone for the touchdown, plus Topete’s kick.
“I expect for us to get better as we keep going,” Pettengill said.