By Robert Juarez and Ryan Gorcey
Special to S.F. Examiner
GEORGE M. RUSH STADIUM — On fourth and goal with seconds left, Shasta quarterback Kasey Briggs dropped back, looking for a touchdown that would bring the Knights within an extra point of tying the City College of San Francisco.
Instead, Briggs found Rams cornerback Isaiah Mays, who leaped high into the air to come down with a game-saving interception as time expired.
In a Golden State Bowl that saw four lead changes, City College had the last word, beating Shasta 50-43 in overtime behind a career day from backup quarterback Jacob Cruz. Stepping in for injured starter Ethan Bullock, the sophomore went 23-for-33 for 343 yards in an MVP performance.
“I think the character and the grit of this team has been evident all year long,” said Rams’ head coach Jimmy Collins. “We continued to face adversity today and different guys kept stepping up and making plays and no one ever doubted we were going to win this game.”
City College (8-3) led for much of the first half, but Briggs threw for a 48-yard score to freshman Tyler Boston and then ran for a seven-yard score of his own five minutes later, as the Knights (7-4) took a 23-21 lead into the break. After a Boston five-yard run to open the second half, Cruz found freshman Christian Willis for a 17-yard touchdown with 1:34 to go in the third, and running back Jamar Julien finished a seven-play, 40-yard drive with a two-yard score at the start of the fourth, putting the Rams up 35-30.
Then, with 6:57 left in the fourth quarter, Boston was pushed over the goalline by his offensive linemen for a 3-yard touchdown run, a failed two-point conversion meant that Shasta led by just one point.
Two plays into the Rams’ next drive, a high dump-off pass from Cruz bounced up into the air and fell into the hands of Knights sophomore defensive lineman Rashard Budd at the City College 10. Three minutes later, Boston plunged in for a two-yard score. The crucial PAT by Matthew Ramirez meant that, with 3:46 to go, the Rams had to not only score, but hit the two-point conversion just to tie.
With no time outs left, Cruz took a pair of sacks and was faced with a fourth-and-22. With the Knights’ bench clamoring and cheering as a win seemed all but certain, Cruz threw a high, arching fade to freshman receiver Traivion Drummer, who used all of his 6-foot-3 frame to reel in the pass for a gain of 32 yards.
Gaining another 14 yards on a back-shoulder pass to Drummer on the next play, the Rams offense stood at Shasta’s 26-yard line with less than two minutes left, and Cruz hit Drummer again with an end zone fade to take a 43-41 lead. Drummer then caught another fade for the game-tying two-point conversion.
“It just came down to athlete versus athlete, and the City athlete won, that’s what it came down to,” said Drummer, a product of Sacramento-Foothill who finished with four catches for 84 yards, one of three receivers with at least 80 yards in the air. Willis finished with eight catches for 150 yards — both career highs — while Alameda native Kenden Robinson Jr. tied his season-high with 10 catches, gaining 102 yards and cracking the century mark for the fourth time this season, and third time in his last four games.
The Rams started off overtime with the ball, but an offensive pass-interference penalty and an unnecessary roughness penalty on the defense bounced the Rams drive back-and-forth, until they finally settled at the Shasta two-yard line.
Grass-stained and soaked with sweat, freshman running back Jarmar Julien Jr. — a freshman out of Oakland-McClymonds — scored untouched, putting the Ram’s up 50-43 following a successful extra point.
“It felt great, it kind of went in slow motion for me,” said Julien, who took home offensive player of the game honors with 105 rushing yards on 16 attempts. “I got the ball, I saw the lineman come free and I cut back. It felt amazing to score the game winning touchdown.”