The CCSF football team launched its 2016 campaign on Friday at Laney College in Oakland. (Courtesy CCSF Athletics)

CCSF football title defense stumbles early

The City College of San Francisco football team entered the season with big hopes: Namely, repeating as national champions.

Their quest for another title took a major hit on Friday night in their season opener against Laney College in Oakland.

The Rams committed too many turnovers and their high-powered offense failed to score in the second half as the Eagles overcame a 13-0 halftime deficit to win 18-13.

“We did not tackle well in the second half. In the end, when it came down to it, we just didn’t make the plays we needed to make,” head coach Jimmy Collins said when reached by phone on Saturday. “But it’s not the end of the world.”

Starting quarterback Zach Masoli connected with Chikwado Nzerem for an 80-yard touchdown to kick off the scoring for CCSF at the end of the first quarter.

Masoli — younger brother to former Oregon signal caller Jeremiah — hit Easop Winston in the second quarter to extend the Rams lead. Masoli finished the game 17-for-31 for 231 yards, but also tossed three interceptions and eventually ceded his spot to Lavell McCullers, who Collins projected to be the starter moving forward.

Nzerem and Winston both impressed as pass catchers. They combined for 247 yards on 14 receptions. But it was the plays CCSF couldn’t make that determined the game: Two receivers dropped wide open touchdowns, Kevin Schaa lost a fumble inside the Rams five-yard line, and the officials called simultaneous possession in the end zone on the last play of the game.

“If you watch the film, it looks like Laney was distraught, and we’re going wild,” Collins said. “All of our receivers are losing their mind and then they ruled it a touchback.”

The Rams couldn’t get anything going on offense in crunch time. How their second-half drives ended: fumble lost, missed field goal, punt, turnover on downs, interception.

The Rams actually won the turnover battle, forcing the Eagles to turn it over four times on interceptions. But they weren’t able to capitalize and are now 0-1. Losing in week 1 won’t be a death sentence for CCSF’s bigger goals this year as the team they faced in last year’s State Championship kicked off the season 0-2.

CCSF returns to action in its home opener on Saturday against Siskiyous.

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