The scoreboard at Oakland Tech wasn’t working during the first half of Mission’s season-opening game against the host Bulldogs.
Considering how things started for the Bears, that might not have been such a bad thing.
Mission (0-1) gave up two early touchdowns, and while the Bears settled in defensively as the morning turned into afternoon, the offense mustered just one first down all day in a 32-0 road loss.
Quarterback Adrian Chavarria dislocated his wrist on the opening possession of the game, and despite the best efforts of Diego Ramirez, who slid over from wide receiver in Chavarria’s absence, there was nothing the Bears could do to move the ball effectively.
Omar Staples, rated by 247Sports as a 3-star defensive end recruit with offers from Arizona State, Oregon State and Utah, gave the Bears nightmares on both sides of the ball. He took a Rahshaan Buffin screen pass 74 yards on Oakland Tech’s second play from scrimmage, and he caught a screen for a 2-point conversion to make it 16-0 after Davion Dixon ran back a punt for a 54-yard score before the first quarter was done.
That was more than enough offense for Oakland Tech (1-0), though Mission did defend well for the remainder of the game. Isiah Pearson both forced and recovered a fumble before the end of the first quarter, but the offense only went backwards and was spared of an interception when two Bulldog defenders collided in coverage. Mission’s lone first down came during the second quarter on a screen pass to Zaden Cato.
Buffin had a touchdown run called back by a holding penalty with a second remaining in the first quarter, but his pass to Staples, a matchup problem for any opposing secondary, went for a 27-yard score on the final play of the half. Buffin also ran in the two-point conversion, and the second half was played with a running clock.
“We’ve got a lot of youth and inexperience,” Mission head coach Terrill Vinson said. “I saw the body language in my team, and they weren’t going to finish a full second half.”
The running clock is only officially necessitated if the margin reaches 35 points, but Vinson approved the shortened second half. Mission has 12 sophomores and just six seniors on the roster, making for a difficult varsity debut for a cadre of young players and for Vinson as a head coach. Penalties called back two more would-be Oakland Tech touchdowns in the second half, but the bigger issue for Vinson was his team’s attitude. One of Mission’s juniors sulked off the field and spent the fourth quarter sitting on the bench, having taken off his jersey and pads.
“One of our core players gave up, and once the younger kids saw him give up, the rest gave up,” Vinson said.
The running clock and a chain of penalties meant the Bulldogs kept the ball for the entire third quarter, and they finally found the end zone again in the fourth on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Buffin to Safir Bey. Mission did block the extra point, but penalties and a pair of sacks left the Bears with a fourth-and-48 from their own 1-yard line. The snap went over the punter’s head for a safety and the final score of the day.
Mission returns to action next Saturday with a 2 p.m. visit to Novato (2-0).
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]