The "Battle for the Bell" showdown was renewed in 2018 following a restructure of the Southern California Football Association (SCFA). It was and has been a long-cherished classic between the Riverside City College football team and the San Bernardino Valley College Wolverines. The crosstown rivalry has been dominated by the Tigers for quite some time and the bell will remain just 10 miles south on the campus of RCC as the Tigers defeated the Wolverines, 58-37, in an offensive shootout.
While offense was king, it was the Tiger defense who stirred the tanks early. On the Wolverines first four possessions, the defense either recorded an interception or forced a punt. Freshman corner back Rey Estes nearly began the contest with a pick-six, but his interception was called back due to an illegal block in the back. However, the Tigers were still granted the turnover and the play set up Riverside's opening score. Sophomore safety Isaia PaoPao recorded an interception on the Wolverines third possession of the game which also lead to a Tiger's score.
The game quickly morphed into an offensive riot which is expected when facing the Wolverines. Both squads combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense with Riverside holding a slight edge at 584 total yards. However, it was the aerial attack that reign supreme with 77 percent of the total game yards coming through the air. A two-quarterback system for the Tigers proved to be highly effective.
Sophomore Mike Irwin and freshman Jacob Barlage shared time under center for the third-straight game. Irwin dropped back 14 times more than Barlage, but Barlage was the most efficient passer of the two as seen in a 12-for-14 effort. He threw for 239 yards leading to three touchdowns, while Irwin went 17-for-28 with 219 yards and two touchdowns.
Both gunslinger's weaponry runs deep as seen in 12 different players hauling in at least one reception. It is no surprise that sophomore wide receiver Tyler Kennedy was at the forefront of the action.
The speedster was the top target as seen in a five catch for 132-yards and a trio of touchdowns. Kennedy hauled in his first touchdown reception on a 14-yard connection with Irwin early in the second quarter. He later exploded for an 85-yard catch and run touchdown reception from Barlage late in the second quarter, backed by a 31-yard touchdown grab from Barlage in the middle stages of the third. The last touchdown pass came at a crucial moment, extending the Tiger's lead to 37-30.
Freshman wide receiver Giovanni Sanders reeled in the first touchdown pass of the game which went for 27-yards. He finished the day with five catches for 66 yards and the lone score. Freshman tight end Anthony Rodriguez's lone 28-yard reception late in the third quarter was Riverside's fifth and final receiving score.
A Riverside tail back finally located the end zone as freshman Thomas Kinslow carted the pigskin 56 yards across the goal line to seal the 58-37 win.
Sophomore Zechariah Holifield was a menace on the defensive end as seen in 8.5 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He did most of his turnover damage late in the game to make his work even more significant.
Special teams got the ball rolling with sophomore Zach Survillas booting a 30-yard field goal to start the scoring for the Tigers. Freshman punter Carson Reed reared back for four punts for 172 yards with one landing inside the 20-yard line.
Riverside (3-0) will host the Long Beach City College Vikings on Saturday, September 28 at 6 p.m. on home turf. If you can't make it out to the game, be sure to watch live on Riverside Athletics YouTube Channel.