There was no quit in the Fresno City College football team.
Trailing by 14 points in the fourth quarter, the Rams rallied to tie, but Sierra’s Matt Krieg made a 35-yard field goal in a 31-28 victory over Fresno City in the State Center Bowl on Saturday at Ratcliffe Stadium.
“We weren’t as sharp as we’ve been,” said Rams coach Tony Caviglia, who entered and exited the game still tied with Clare Slaughter as the school’s all-time winningest coach. “Never gave up. This team never gives up and it’s a mark of a good team.”
Caviglia said this season was “bittersweet,” because he said there are a lot of “hardworking guys that are really dedicated to being good football players.”
Sophomore Christian Rossi completed 23 of 41 for 258 yards and three touchdowns for the Rams (6-5), including a 3-yard pass to Kailon Carter that tied it 28-28.
“Never going to see the guys again,” Rossi said as he looked out at teammates. “That’s the hardest part. Yes, we lost the game but we played hard and didn’t play well enough to win. Playing with all these guys from across the country that I would’ve never met … it’s going to be sad not seeing them again.
“A lot of games we lost could’ve gone either way. We weren’t able to make plays or we get a bad break on a penalty or have a defensive breakdown. It’s been a good season.”
The Wolverines (6-5) got in field-goal range after Kyle Cota completed a 34-yard pass to Isaiah Bailey. That left Sierra set up at the Rams 12, well within Krieg’s range.
Cota, who threw two interceptions but completed 30 of 51 for 376 yards and two touchdowns, was named the game’s most valuable player. Krieg was voted Sierra’s player of the game.
Rams sophomore receiver Bryant Fisher said it hurts to lose, but added “we’re taking it as a team.”
“We have to live with what happened and take steps forward,” he said. “Family and determination (is what this team is about in 2015). We always kept our heads held up high.”
Fresno City sophomore linebacker Chris Woolbright – on his way to team player of the game honors – finished with five tackles, one of the interceptions and a fumble return for 87 yards to the Sierra 3 that set up a Rossi touchdown pass to Rashaan Miller that pulled the Rams within 28-21 with 3:31 remaining.
Rams players wanted to go out on a high note and give Caviglia his 137th victory, but that will have to wait until next season.
“That was on our minds going into the game,” Fisher said. “We wanted to give him a bowl championship because he deserves it. Coaches never took one day off on us and never missed a beat. We wanted this for Coach C. That’s why you see the passion at the end of the game: No one wanted to leave the field.”
▪ Shasta rolled past West Hills 51-14 in the NCFC American Division Championship bowl in Coalinga. The Falcons and Knights end the season at 9-2.
Men’s soccer – Sixth-seeded Fresno City opened its postseason run in style, beating No. 11 Contra Costa 4-1 in the first round of the NorCal Regional. Sergio Segura scored twice for the Rams (13-5-4).
Fresno City will travel Tuesday to San Jose to face No. 3 Evergreen Valley, a 3-1 winner over No. 14 West Hills-Lemoore.
Women’s soccer – Four players scored as the second-seeded Rams women rolled past No. 15 Solano 4-0 in their regional opener, guaranteeing another home match for Fresno City.
Yesseniah Delgadillo, Melody Harris, Jessica Robles and Courtney Wild each scored for the Rams, who improved to 17-1-4 and will host No. 7 and Central Valley Conference rival Taft at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Taft beat No. 10 Lassen 3-1.
Cross country – Glendale (women) and American River (men), as expected, ran to team titles at the state championship meet at Woodward Park. Sequoias was 21st and Fresno City 26th among the 28 men’s teams. COS was 12th and Fresno City 27th out of the 27 women’s teams.
Southwestern’s Aminat Olowora repeated as the women’s individual champion, though her 17:02 over 3.1 miles was just off her course record of 16:59.7 set last year. Sequoias Jo Jo Zorn (19:07.9) was 19th. Canyons’ Ethan Walker (20:09.8) won the men’s 4-mile race.