The Berkeley Yellowjackets ran roughshod over Alameda on Friday night, racking up 482 rushing yards on the way to a 48-14 home victory.
Senior tailback Germaine Baird led the attack with 184 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries, his best output of the season. Backups Craig Hollis, Roger Mason and Mario Mejia also scored rushing touchdowns for the ’Jackets.
Berkeley (2-3 overall, 2-0 ACCAL) won the game easily despite committing 190 yards worth of penalties, a large percentage of which were for unsportsmanlike conduct and other extra-curricular infractions.
“I’d like to think this game was an anomaly,” Berkeley head coach Matt Bissell said of his team’s penalties. “We’ve had very few penalties until now. We told our players to be aggressive, but apparently we need to tell them when to not be too aggressive.”
Berkeley penalties negated several big gains, including an interception return by safety Nick Schooler that looked like a touchdown. But Juleen Jacobs was called for roughing the passer on the play, negating the turnover.
The ’Jackets ran up more yards in penalties than they allowed the Hornets to gain on offense. Alameda (2-3, 0-2 ACCAL) managed to gain just 183 yards, including just 29 on the ground. Berkeley’s linemen constantly knocked their opponents off the ball on both sides, although the offensive line was called for holding four times.
“We definitely executed well today, running our plays right,” lineman Matt Toma said. “It just seemed like we would open a huge hole, the back would break downfield, and we’d look back and see a flag on the weak side. But we dominated the line of scrimmage tonight.”
Early in the game, however, it was the Berkeley passing game that gave them a quick lead. Quarterback Raymond Pinkston connected for long touchdowns on his first two passes. The first came on the fourth play of the game’s opening drive, a 38-yard toss that wideout Lee Franklin came down with in a crowd.
After Alameda’s first drive resulted in a loss of 19 yards, Berkeley got the ball back at midfield. Pinkston needed just three plays this time, hooking up with Sean Young down the left sideline for 44 yards and a score, and the ’Jackets were up 12-0 after just six minutes of play.
“(Berkeley offensive coordinator Charles) Johnson told us their DBs couldn’t stay with us, so we went right after them,” Franklin said.
Alameda’s next drive looked doomed as well, as two plays were stuffed and the Hornets faced third-and-17. But quarterback Tom Gay looked off Berkeley Schooler before finding Drew Kocal on a quick slant for 55 yards. That big play gave Alameda some life, and Gay found running back Jay Castro on an out pattern for a touchdown.
Berkeley’s next drive stalled at the Alameda 29, and the Hornets marched down the field for another score. Gay connected on two passes, Castro picked up 17 yards on a draw, and Berkeley helped out with a 15-yard facemask penalty to put the Hornets on the two-yard line. Gay then hit Tavis Vee on a wide receiver screen for the touchdown, and the point after gave Alameda a 14-12 lead.
But that would be the last time the Hornets scored, and Berkeley just started piling up the rushing yards. Running back Aaron Boatwright got the ball rolling with a 34-yard scamper on the following drive, and Baird put the ’Jackets ahead for good with an 8-yard touchdown sweep.
Berkeley nearly scored again before halftime, as Franklin made a tremendous one-handed catch to put them inside the 20 with seven seconds left, but an attempted quarterback throwback was snuffed out by the Hornets, and Berkeley went into the locker room with a 20-14 lead.
The ’Jackets headed into the second half roaring. After forcing a three-and-out by Alameda, Mason scored on a 34-yard run right up the middle, trucking over the last Hornet defender. The Hornets couldn’t pick up a first down on the next drive either, but a blocking in the back penalty on the Berkeley punt return put the ball on the Berkeley 8-yard line. The Berkeley coaches then used all their backfield weapons to break Alameda’s spirit, using five different runners on an eight-play, 92-yard drive that ended in a 14-yard touchdown for Hollis.
“We blessed with a bunch of great athletes,” Johnson said. “We might even have too many good guys at running back. But they all understand that if they do their jobs, they’ll all get a chance.”
Hollis, who finished the game with 96 yards on 11 carries, is a junior and has shown flashes of talent that could make him one of the regions top runners next year. Despite splitting his backup duties with Boatwright, Mason and Mejia, he is the front-runner to replace Baird as the main man next year.
“Right now my job is just to back Germaine up,” Hollis said. “But next year should be my year.”
Berkeley’s next score came on their lone passing play of the second half, a 62-yard bomb from Pinkston to Young as time ran out in the third quarter. Young has scored on three long plays in Berkeley’s last two games, and his coaches consider him to be one of the best deep threats in the league, a realization Young seems to finally be making himself.
“I think I can keep doing this if I keep trying really hard,” the soft-spoken junior said. “Our passing game is going pretty good with me and Lee.”
Mejia capped the scoring with a 35-yard run with four minutes left in the game.
“We’re finally coming together as a team,” Pinkston said. “We’re like a family now. It’s all love.”