By Dave Campbell / Record Correspondent
STOCKTON — Play until the last whistle. That is what the Delta College football team did Saturday.
Although the Mustangs lost to Northern California top-ranked San Mateo 31-12 at De Ricco Field, it was Delta tenacity’s that led to a 34-yard touchdown pass from Nordahl Shad to De’von King on the game’s last play.
Mustangs tenacity and lack of discipline by the Bulldogs, that is.
On the play prior to King’s circus catch as time expired, San Mateo (2-0) incurred its 21st penalty, an unsportsmanlike conduct call to put the ball into scoring position. Shad made the Bulldogs pay.
“It was awesome,” Shad said. “I just dropped back, saw him and threw it. We had four seconds left and got it done.”
San Mateo had a whopping 189 yards in penalties compared to just 77 for Delta (0-2).
“We talk to our guys a lot about those things,” Mustangs coach Gary Barlow said. “We identify those kind of penalties as selfish penalties. They don’t have to do with playing hard, they don’t have to do with supporting your teammates.
“They have to do with you putting your personal feelings ahead of everything else. Our guys aren’t perfect but they’re a good group. They’re working hard and I’m really proud of them. We’ve got three more games and then a bye week and then we are going to get ready for league.”
Statistically, San Mateo dominated Delta with 438 yards of offense to just 137 for the Mustangs. Surprisingly, Delta edged out the Bulldogs in time of possession, 31:29 to 28:31.
“The score is the way it is,” Barlow said. “But had the offense been able to be more productive and churn out more first downs (the Mustangs had 11 first downs to 23 for San Mateo) and change the field position, I feel very confident that we would have had a different score, particularly if the offense could match the defense’s production.
“We just had too many three and outs, putting the defense right back onto the field.”
The Mustangs came to within 10-6 in the third quarter on a 2-yard run by Prinston Fontenberry, but then San Mateo scored 21 unanswered points.
“I’m not saying everything would have worked out, but a lot of those points at the end came from our defense being on the field for too many snaps,” Barlow said.
Delta’s Jesse Avila recovered a fumble early in the third quarter, giving the Mustangs the ball on the Bulldogs 20-yard line. Shad ran the ball to the 1 on the next play, but two plays later Delta had lost three yards only for San Mateo to get whistled for another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, setting the ball up on the 2 for Fontenberry’s plunge.
“Honestly, I couldn’t have done it without the line,” Fontenberry said. “And the quarterback, Shad, he’s a good guy. But like I said, I can depend on the O line.”
Anthony Giangregorio led the Mustangs with six tackles.
“As Coach Barlow told us at the beginning of the week, we just had to go play by play and do our job instead of worrying about what everyone else was doing,” Giangregorio said. “I think that helped us a lot and we pretty much came at them and kept on coming at them.”
Tre Hines was a double threat for the Bulldogs, gaining 95 yards on 11 carries and completing 8 of 18 passes for 149 yards with three touchdowns. Osai Elicker caught two of the three Hines touchdown passes, bringing in six receptions for 123 yards.