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American River loses another heartbreaker to San Mateo in Northern California championship

American River College wanted a rematch and got it against a team that has given the Beavers fits.

But a furious rally and a potential game-winning drive ended with Nate Sanchez’s interception in the end zone, allowing top-ranked College of San Mateo to beat the Beavers 30-27 on Saturday in the California Community College Athletic Association Northern California championship game in a wet and rainy contest.

The Bulldogs (11-1) won their second consecutive NorCal crow, their fourth since 2017 and their fifth overall. San Mateo defeated ARC of Sacramento in the NorCal final last season en route to a state championship and a national No. 1 finish.

The Beavers finished with a 10-2 record. Their only other loss came at the hands of the Bulldogs, who held on for a 24-23 victory when a late 2-point conversion attempt failed back on Sept. 23.

ARC scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, cutting into a 30-13 deficit. Kenny Lueth led the charge as the Rocklin High School graduate had all season. The sophomore quarterback had a 10-yard touchdown pass to Robert Freeman to pull ARC within 16-13. Lueth hit Freeman again for a 20-yard TD play to make it 30-27 with 8:35 to play. Lueth’s interception on the late drive was just his second of the season.

Lueth passed for 193 yards. Joshua Moore and Elias Brown each ran for touchdowns for ARC, which was in its fourth NorCal final under coach Jon Osterhout.

Anthony Grigsby of Cosumnes Oaks High School passed for 294 yards and two TDs for San Mateo, overcoming two interceptions. He turned in another stellar performance a week after passing for 337 yards and four touchdowns in a semifinal win over Modesto City College.

Freeman had eight catches for 116 yards for ARC. Linebacker Josh Tremain of Folsom High School, the team’s leading tackler this season, had a game-high 12 tackles for the Beavers.